Gov. Ige Announces Cabinet Appointments

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Gov. David Ige is making appointments to his cabinet to fill the positions left vacant due to two planned retirements. He has also re-appointed the state procurement administrator.

Gov. Ige has appointed Ryker Wada to serve as interim director of the state Department of Human Resources Development effective Jan. 1, 2018, following the Dec. 31 retirement of Director James Nishimoto, who devoted over 40 years of his career to public service.

“Jim Nishimoto has been an outstanding leader in transforming state government,” said Gov. Ige. “His innovative programs, including the multi-skilled pilot program, have expanded the use of technology and helped re-shape our workforce, and last year he was instrumental in renegotiating all 14 collective bargaining contracts. He has certainly earned his retirement and I wish him well as he spends time with his family. I have every confidence in Ryker and know that he will continue to streamline current practices to create greater work efficiencies.”

Ryker Wada. Courtesy photo.

Wada has served as deputy director of the department since Dec. 2016. Prior to this he was the certificated personnel regional officer for the Windward District of the state Department of Education, where he was responsible for human resources and labor relations. Before joining DOE, he served as the managing attorney for the Honolulu Office of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii. Wada earned a B.A. from the University of Washington and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.


Wada’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Hawaiʻi Senate during the next regular session.

Gov. Ige is designating Laurel Johnston to perform the duties of the director of Budget and Finance effective Jan. 1, 2018, following the Dec. 31retirement of Wesley K. Machida, who has completed 30 years of service to the state. Wes leaves the position to spend more time with his family and anticipates doing some volunteer work with the state, especially in the area of retirement planning.

Laurel Johnston. Courtesy photo.

Johnston will serve in this capacity until the vacancy is filled by an appointment made pursuant to Article V, section 6 of the Hawai‘i Constitution or 60 days after the vacancy, whichever occurs first.


“Wes has been a true partner in managing the state’s finances. Under his leadership, the state’s general obligation bond credit ratings were raised, saving over $140 million taxpayer dollars,” said Gov. Ige. “I’m grateful he chose to serve the people of Hawaiʻi. Laurel has been involved in the preparation of this year’s budget and will provide steady direction for the department until a permanent replacement is named.”

Johnston has served as the deputy director of the department since Dec. 2016. During her 30-year career in Hawaiʻi, Johnston has worked as a public administrator, researcher, and writer in the diverse policy areas of education and health, criminal and social justice, economic development, and public finance. Prior to joining Gov. Ige’s staff, she was the director of the University of Hawaiʻi System budget office. She earned a M.S. in public administration and a B.S. in criminology, both from Florida State University.

In addition, Gov. Ige announced the re-appointment of Sarah Allen to the position of state procurement administrator effective Dec. 1, 2017, for a term to extend through Oct. 3, 2021.


“Sarah has played a vital role in this position, and I appreciate the energy with which she serves the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Gov. Ige.

Sarah Allen. Courtesy photo.

Allen’s expertise is in contracting, acquisition and financial management. From 2007 to 2013, she was a senior manager for ASI Government Inc., during which time she acted as executive advisor to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Prior to that, she was a senior acquisition analyst from 2006 to 2007 for CACI at the Pentagon, and served in the U.S. Air Force as a commissioned contracting officer from 2004 to 2006 and a non-commissioned officer at Hickam Air Force Base from 2000 to 2004.

Allen earned a Global Executive Master of Business Administration from George Mason University, a Master of Acquisition Management from the American Graduate University, and a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Auditing from the University of South Africa.

Allen’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Hawaiʻi Senate during the next regular session.

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