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Mayor Blangiardi names city’s manager and employee of the year

HONOLULU – Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced today the manager and employee of the year for the City and County of Honolulu.

Christine Ching, of the Department of Parks and Recreation, earned recognition as the 2021 manager of the year, and Rowena Santamaria, of the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, was named this year’s employee of the year.

“I have been most impressed with the men and women who work for the City and County of Honolulu during my first ten months in office. Simply stated, they lead and serve with great heart and intention,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “I have great appreciation for all of the employees, and especially for their many stellar achievements during this most difficult period of time.  I send my most heartfelt congratulations to Christine Ching and Rowena Santamaria for their timeless dedication and commitment to the City.”

The announcement was made on Oct. 29 as part of the 2021 Mayor’s Awards Program, which was held as an online event. The awards program recognizes city workers who have performed job-related acts of heroism and highlights employees who have performed their jobs in an exemplary manner.

Ching, the city’s manager of the year, is a Parks and Recreation District Manager.  She is credited with inspiring pride and enthusiasm among employees with her self-motivated approach to the job, willingness to work with others, and support of her staff.

Santamaria, the employee of the year, is a Fiscal Officer with the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services. She was nominated for her hard work, dedication and excellent service to the city. Santamaria was praised for providing excellent service to agencies despite multiple personnel vacancies and relatively new staff. Her easy-going and positive attitude were seen as an asset to the department and the city during the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Honolulu Emergency Services Department employees received the Valor Award for acts of heroism that involved exposure to extreme danger and possible injury to the employee, others or property. Kamakani Froiseth and Kekuahoʻolehua Flood saved two swimmers at Electric Beach in dangerous 10-foot surf and strong currents; Frederic Booth III, saved the life of a woman at Ke Iki Beach, which was widely shared and viewed on social media; and Joseph Cadiz was recognized for rescuing a snorkeler in deadly 15-foot surf on O‘ahu’s North Shore.

The Exceptional Achievement Award went to Department of Human Resources employees Peggy S. Kanemori, Debra A.K. Martinson, Deborah K. Nishimura and Shannon S.O. Tolentino; Department of Information Technology employees Gigi P. Chan, Karl E. Sueyoshi and Liwen Yao; and Department of the Prosecuting Attorney employees Lowell S. Hu, Dominic S. Jancaterino, and Chase S. Sakai. The employees were recognized for their team effort on important city projects and programs.

Karen K. Lee was honored as the Outstanding Deputy Corporation Counsel for her CARES Act related research and guidance, and Tiffany L.H.K. Chong was named as the Outstanding Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for her leadership of 17 deputies and prosecution of challenging domestic violence cases.

The Citizens’ Selection Committee, which selects the winners, consisted of Brent Arakaki, Chief Financial Officer Goodwill Hawaii, Unyong Nakata, Senior Director of Sales and Merchandising Y. Hata & Co., Ltd., and Stanford Ono, Vice President and District Manager Central Pacific Bank.


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