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Zonta to Recognize Jackie Pualani Johnson

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Jackie Pualani Johnson. Zonta Club of Hilo courtesy photo.

Jackie Pualani Johnson. Zonta Club of Hilo courtesy photo.

University of Hawai’i at Hilo professor Jackie Pualani Johnson was selected to be awarded with the Zonta Club of Hilo’s “Rose Award of Excellence.”

Johnson will be recognized during a ceremony at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel on March 14.

The award is part of Zonta International’s observance of International Women’s Day and Zonta Rose Day, shedding light on women who have made a significant impact on the lives of others through their employment, volunteer activities and associations.


“Zonta Hilo is proud to play a part in celebrating Jackie’s extraordinary achievements and contributions to the arts, education, and throughout the community,” said Julie Tulang, Zonta Hilo Service Chair. “For nearly four decades, Jackie has worn many hats—teacher, mentor, performer, director—inspiring and sparking creativity wherever she goes.”

Johnson was born and raised in Hilo. She is a graduate of St. Joseph High School, where she began singing under the direction of Clarence Waipa.

After graduating high school, Johnson went on to earn her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in drama from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has performed hula and chanted oli for international audiences, and played a number of roles in local theater productions, including Golde in Fiddler on the Roof and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.


In addition, Johnson has both helped organize and play a role in the Hilo Community Players’ Shakespeare in the Park, and even fulfilled one of her own dreams of presenting a pidgin version of a Shakespeare classic, re-titled One Uddah Mid’summah.

As a professor at UH-Hilo, she chairs the Performing Arts Department. Since 1979, Johnson has taught acting, stage make-up, costuming, and directing. She has also provided oral interpretation of literature with an emphasis on works by local writers.

Johnson has directed over 70 productions and will retire from UH-Hilo in May 2017.

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