Officers and Directors
The Hawai‘i Branch’s all-volunteer Board meets regularly during the year to manage the operation of the Branch.
Natalie Haggerty is an Instructor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Department of Special Education. She is a Cohort Coordinator for the Exceptional Students Elementary Education (ESEE) program, and is passionate about pre-service teacher preparation. She is also a doctoral student in the UH-Mānoa College of Education, Ph.D. in Education program, Exceptionalities specialization. Her research interests include evidence-based practices for children with high incidence disabilities, and literacy instruction for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Mrs. Haggerty is the Fundraising Committee Co-Chair for HIDA and a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). She previously served as a Middle School Dean, Curriculum Specialist, Summer Program Director, and Teacher at Assets School. She is the parent of a child who is dyslexic.
Norma Hara, D.Arch.
Norma Hara has had a long career in healthcare as a Respiratory Therapist. She is the Operations Manager for Sleep Center at Pali Momi. She holds a BFA in Interior Design and a Doctorate in Architecture. She is on the Interior Design Advisory Board of Chaminade University and has served as President of the University of Hawai’i School of Architecture Alumni Association and as a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Hawai’i Alumni Association. Dr. Hara’s involvement with the learning difference community is through her children, both of whom are dyslexic. For many years, she was actively involved with Assets School as room parent, president of the parent association, member of the Board of Trustees and fundraising co-chair.
M’Liss Moore has a unique connection to HIDA; she and her immediate family were very close to Cal Sakata, a longtime HIDA volunteer and Board Member. Ms. Moore has an impressive array of credentials, and she is hoping to bring her talents to HIDA where she can continue to honor her special friend and hānai family member, Cal Sakata. Ms. Moore is currently the Managing Director of Kamehameha Schools’ Financial Asset Division, where she oversees marketable and real asset strategies for KS’ asset portfolio. She has served as a Senior VP and Co-Director of Equity at Bishop Street Capital Management. Ms. Moore has also been very involved with bringing economics and finance opportunities for Hawaiʻi’s youth in order to broaden their educational opportunities.
Mark Murakami is Vice President – Private Banking Division at First Hawaiian Bank. He has a son with dyslexia who graduated from Assets School in May 2016. Mr. Murakami feels fortunate that their family was able to get assistance for their son and would welcome the opportunity to assist others in dealing with dyslexia.
Ned Directo is a Commercial Real Estate Loan Officer and Vice President at Bank of Hawai’i.
Liuone Faagai, MHRM
Liuone Faagai is the General Manager of Human Resources at Hawaiian Electric. He has a Master of Human Resource Management from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and joined HECO with over 20 years of human resource experience in various areas. In addition, he also works as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Phoenix in Hawai‘i. Prior to joining Hawaiian Electric, he worked as the Manager, Workforce Investment Group at Kamehameha Schools (KS) for over ten years where he was responsible for the management and development of KS’ human resource programs.
Kathleen Hassler is the preschool-5th grade learning specialist at Mid-Pacific Institute (MPI) on Oahu. She is originally from New York where she taught special education in New York public schools. With over 20 years of teaching experience, she works to establish positive relationships between students, teachers, parents, and administration, counselors, and others to ensure a collaborative effort while creating support plans and strategies that promote a higher chance of academic success for all learners. Kathy has recently completed training through the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education in the Orton-Gillingham approach for the treatment of dyslexia. She believes strongly in HIDA’s mission and focusing on a child’s unique gifts and strengths.
Kimble McCann is an educator with a huge passion for supporting all stakeholders in learning. He holds a Ph.D. in Learning Design and Technology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Dr. McCann’s research interests and professional expertise include Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and technological-pedagogical-and-content knowledge (TPACK). He has served as a special education teacher, instructional designer, senior instructional technology specialist and educational consultant and is currently an IT project manager for Kamehameha Schools. Dr. McCann’s personal connection with dyslexia stems from growing up with a dyslexic father.
Kavita Rao, Ph.D.
Kavita Rao is a professor at College of Education, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses and supervises K-12 teacher candidates in the Hawai‘i DOE schools. Her research focuses on instructional and assistive technology, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), online learning, and technology-related strategies for culturally and linguistically diverse students. Dr. Rao’s prior professional experiences include working as a school technology coordinator in Massachusetts and as an educational specialist for Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL). She has worked with schools and districts in Hawai‘i, Guam, American Samoa, and the Federated States of Micronesia and has conducted workshops on UDL in various school districts around the US and in Asia.
Elizabeth Scamahorn, M.Ed.
Elizabeth Scamahorn is actively involved with academic training for students with dyslexia and other learning differences. She makes use of 35 years in the Kauai public and private school systems as a teacher, trainer, coach, and tutor. She and her staff recently completed their 11th summer of an intensive summer literacy clinic for students with challenged skills in grades 1st through 4th. She is trained in literacy acquisition through Orton-Gillingham & Slingerland methodologies, and numerous multisensory programs and curricula. She has been a member of the IDA Hawai‘i Branch for 27 years. Mrs. Scamahorn works from her office at Island School on Kauai, and extends her services to home school students, public and other private school students.
Margaret Higa is the Hawai’i Branch of IDA’s (HIDA) Executive Director and its sole employee. She has worked for HIDA in various capacities since 1999. She knows the challenges of dyslexia first-hand as several of her children as well as other relatives and friends have dyslexia.
Cal Sakata – Volunteer Extraordinaire
Former Hawai‘i Branch Board member and longtime DOE Special Education teacher Cal Sakata lost his five year battle with cancer in July 2009. Cal was a beloved teacher who served on the Hawai‘i Branch Board from 1996 through 2001, and again from 2003 through 2007. In 2002, he was selected as the Hawai‘i Branch’s Volunteer of the Year. Cal’s memorial service was a testament to the many people he touched throughout his life. The overflowing crowd of over 500 people included his family, friends, colleagues and students. It was a festive atmosphere filled with loving stories of Cal, punctuated by tears and laughter. The chapel and crowd were adorned with images of Mickey Mouse. Cal had requested that everyone wear something with Mickey Mouse on it to honor one of his idols – Walt Disney*. According to Leandra Pace, Cal’s longtime co-worker and dear friend who delivered the eulogy, one of Walt Disney’s quotes became Cal’s motto: “If you can dream it, you can do it!”
*We have learned that according to the Walt Disney Family Museum, there is no indication anywhere in Walt’s history that he had dyslexia.
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