Carrie Okinaga Recommended for UH General Counsel Post

University of Hawaiʻi
Kelli Abe Trifonovitch, (808) 228-8108
Director of Communications & Outreach, External Affairs and University Relations
Posted: May 14, 2015

Carrie Okinaga
Carrie Okinaga

HONOLULU – Former City and County of Honolulu Corporation Counsel and current First Hawaiian Bank General Counsel Carrie K. S. Okinaga has been recommended by President David Lassner to serve as the Vice President for Legal Affairs and University General Counsel (VPLA/UGC) of the University of Hawai‘i System.  The appointment is subject to the approval of the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents at their meeting on May 21, 2015.

Born and raised in Hawai‘i, Okinaga attended the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and participated in the honors program from 1985 to 1986.  She received her bachelor of arts degree in government/public policy from Pomona College in 1989 and graduated magna cum laude.  She attended and graduated from Stanford Law School in 1992, and served on its Board of Visitors from 2006 to 2014.

Following 12 years in private practice in Honolulu, Okinaga served three mayors as the City and County of Honolulu’s Corporation Counsel from 2005 to 2011.  As Corporation Counsel, she was the chief in-house legal counsel for an approximately 9,000-employee organization with a budget in excess of $1 billion.  In this capacity, Okinaga advised top-level city management, the mayor and the Honolulu City Council on major legal issues.  She also helped lead negotiation of the city’s wastewater consent decree that resolved a decade of environmental litigation and threatened enforcement actions.  Since 2012 she has served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of First Hawaiian Bank.

UH President David Lassner said, “Carrie Okinaga is a highly regarded leader in the legal community with a strong commitment to public service.  She will be a tremendous asset to the entire University of Hawai‘i as we work to build a better future for our students and our communities across the state.”

Okinaga currently serves on the board for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), and served as HART’s first board chair for two years until 2013.  If her appointment is approved by the Board of Regents, she will step down from the HART board.

The position of Vice President for Legal Affairs and University General Counsel serves as a member of the President’s executive leadership team and, and is responsible for the overall leadership, counsel and guidance in providing legal services to the Board of Regents, the President, the university administration and its operating units.  The position directs a staff of attorneys and provides support in provision of legal services and ensures effective relationships with other organizations, agencies and officials to advance the university’s legal interests within the broader community. 

Okinaga said, “Our university serves such a critical, game-changing role in educating our youth, developing our workforce and increasing the number of high-quality jobs through innovation and research.  I am humbled by the opportunity to work with President Lassner and his team in their service to our university and community.”

The search for the VPLA/UGC commenced in February 2015.  The search advisory committee was chaired by Vice President for Administration Jan Gouveia.  If approved by the Board of Regents, Okinaga’s appointment will be effective on or about June 26, 2015.


About the University of Hawai‘i System


Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and College, the University of Hawai‘i System includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the state. As the sole public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs.  UH enrolls about 60,000 students from Hawai‘i, the U.S. mainland and around the world.  For more information, visit