New Members Appointed to UH Board of Regents

January 14, 2019, 9:25 AM HST (Updated January 14, 2019, 9:25 AM)
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The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents welcomes three new members: Alapaki Nahale-a (Hawaiʻi County), Robert Frank Westerman (Kauaʻi County) and Kelli K.K. Acopan (Student Regent).

“The new regents bring with them a wide range of experience and the board will benefit greatly from their expertise,” said Board of Regents Chair Lee Putnam. “We look forward to their contributions over the upcoming year.”

Nahale-a will fill outgoing Regent Doug Shinsato’s seat, Acopan replaces Regent Brandon Higa and Westerman fills a vacant seat.

“We thank outgoing Regents Doug Shinsato and Brandon Higa for their service, dedication and outstanding contributions to the university during their tenure,” said Putnam.

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Their appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate during the 2019 regular session of the Legislature.

Alapaki Nahale-a – Hawaiʻi County, will serve through June 30, 2023.

Nahale-a is Kamehameha Schools’ senior director of community engagement and resources for Hawaiʻi Island. He works to connect programs, services, lands and resources with communities Kamehameha Schools interacts with and supports.

Born and raised in Hilo, Nahale-a is a 1986 graduate of Kamehameha Schools and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania.

Nahale-a spent more than 25 years serving the community in a variety of roles including as director and chairman of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the East Hawaiʻi commissioner. He also worked extensively for charter schools as president and executive director of the Hawaiʻi Charter School Network, director of Laupāhoehoe Community Public Charter School and director of Ka ʻUmeke Kaʻeo Hawaiian Immersion Public Charter School.

He served on a variety of community boards and commissions including chairperson of the County of Hawaiʻi Cultural Resources Commission, member of the County Charter Commission, board member of the Boys and Girls club of the Big Island and board member of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.

President Obama appointed Nahale-a to serve on the Presidential Scholars Commission where he helped to set commission policy and select top high school scholars from around the country.

Robert Frank Westerman – Kauaʻi County, will serve through June 30, 2022.

Westerman is the retired chief administrator of the Kauaʻi Fire Department. He ensured that the fire department and ocean safety bureau employees were highly skilled, well trained, professionally educated, adequately equipped and motivated to provide the best service possible when saving lives and property on Kauaʻi.

His belief in lifelong education was one of the pillars of his administration. He was the first Kauaʻi fire chief to encourage and allow attendance at the National Fire Academy and he also brought back the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification through Kauaʻi Community College.

Westerman earned his MBA from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa and a BSBA from the University of Phoenix.

He is a Vietnam Veteran retired from the United States Air Force after 20 years of service. His commendations and medals include the Air Force Commendation Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Humanitarian Service Medals, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal and Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm.

Westerman also serves as a board member of the Kauaʻi United Way and the West Kauaʻi Business and Professional Association and is a Life Member of the American Legion, Westside Post 51.

He is married to Ann Marie Wooton and they have three children and nine grandchildren.

Kelli K.K. Acopan – Student Regent, will serve through June 30, 2020.

Acopan is currently pursuing a masters degree in history at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, focusing on gendered social history in the U.S. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts in history from UH Mānoa and earned her associate of arts degree at Windward Community College.

Acopan served two years as president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi at Windward CC. She served on campus and systemwide committees, actively submitting legislative testimony, and collaborating with community organizations such as the Koʻolaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club and the Kāneʻohe Neighborhood Board to ensure that the student voice was heard on policy from both the UH System and the surrounding community. She also served as UH Student Caucus vice chair.

Acopan supports student success through academic tutoring and outreach for K–12 students as both a Hawaiʻi Department of Education substitute teacher and program assistant with the Upward Bound program at Windward CC, and serves as a graduate assistant with the history department at UH Mānoa.

Acopan is a member of the Alpha Lambda Theta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society at Windward CC and UH Mānoa, the Alpha Beta Epsilon Chapter of the Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society and the 130th Chapter of the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Acopan is a wife and mother of three.

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