Palafox Named Senior Director of Operations for HLTA

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Edgar Palafox has been named Senior Director of Operations for the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association (HLTA), effective Jan. 2, 2019. The HLTA is the state’s largest private sector tourism organization, with 700 members, of which 170 are hotel members representing 50,000 rooms and 40,000 employees.

Edgar Palafox. Courtesy photo.

Palafox replaces Vice President Dean Nakasone, who is leaving the association at year’s end to pursue other career opportunities.

Mufi Hannemann, HLTA president & CEO, made the announcement on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, stating, “Dean’s departure is a great loss for our organization. He’s brought his tourism experience and insight and strong leadership to our membership, and we look forward to working with him again in his new endeavors.

“Meanwhile, we’re pleased to welcome Edgar Palafox back to the hospitality industry,” said Hannemann. “He worked in human resources for the Sheraton Waikīkī and Hertz Corporation before joining Goodwill Hawai‘i as human resources manager. With his experience in business and the nonprofit sector, as well as management and labor, I feel that Edgar will be a great asset to our organization and members.”


Palafox earned his undergraduate degree at Linfield College and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and his master’s at Hawai‘i Pacific University. Prior to Goodwill, Palafox was an instructor at Hawai‘i Pacific University, human resources manager at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Cheap Tickets, and a representative for the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union, Local 5.

Jared Higashi. Courtesy photo.

“I am excited to reintroduce myself to the visitor industry. I know how much HLTA contributes to our community, from philanthropic efforts like the Charity Walk, to advocacy at the state and county levels,” said Palafox. “I am honored to join an organization that is so committed to creating positive change.”



Hannemann also announced some staff restructuring: Jared Higashi will be promoted to Senior Director of Government and Community Affairs. Melina Hicks becomes Administrative Director and Ashley Yonamine will be the Director of Membership and Communications. Jessica Caires remains as the Director of Fiscal Services.

“I am looking forward to 2019 as we unveil some exciting new initiatives that will keep HLTA staunchly committed to our mission of education, advocacy, and philanthropy for Hawai‘i’s tourism industry,” said Hannemann.

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