Edit ModuleShow Tags

Q + A, Dee Jay Mailer


Photo: Kent S. Hwang

After raising billions to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries, Kamehameha Schools alumna Dee Jay Mailer has returned home to serve as the organization’s CEO. When Mailer was CEO at Kaiser Permanente Hawai‘i, she improved health-plan-member satisfaction to the highest levels in the state. Can she use those skills at Kamehameha Schools?

Q: When you graduated from Kamehameha in 1970, did you ever think you’d return as CEO?

A: No. As high school graduates, what’s on our minds? Graduating. Since coming back, I have reconnected with so many faces that I knew before I left, and I’m impressed that the same faces are here, because Hawaii has had its challenges.

Q: How is Kamehameha Schools different than when you attended?

A: There aren’t real differences in terms of the campuses and the environment that I had, or that my children had. The only difference is that the focus now is not only on providing education on the campuses, but also providing education out in the communities, as well.

Q: How does customer service apply to schools?

A: Whether your customer is a little kindergartener just entering school or a high school senior about to graduate, we are here to serve Hawaiian children with opportunities for education. The challenge is to be focused on that customer.

Q: Kamehameha Schools has been in the news a lot, and not always in positive ways.

A: It’s the reality of any large organization. We have the same challenges that other organizations have, with different content. I tend not to dwell on the controversy, but to focus on the work we have to do to get the results we want. We have to communicate our solutions in an open manner. But we will move quickly back to being focused on that customer.

Q: What are your goals for Kamehameha Schools?

A: Extending the reach, to bring resources to the Hawaiian children who can’t come into the campuses. I want to strengthen the endowment, to make sure the portfolio is sustainable, so that when we make commitments to our students we aren’t at the mercy of the markets. I want to focus on partnerships. We don’t live in a world on our own. We need to work with communities, with business and with other school systems, to bring up the level of education. Education is at the forefront of everyone’s mind; it’s what everyone is talking about. It’s prime time.


Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to Honolulu

Honolulu Magazine September 2020
Edit ModuleShow Tags



9 Greatest Honolulu Homes

Great Homes

Stunning, historic, extraordinary.


Can the Mainland Do Poke Right? Do We Want Them To?​


Martha Cheng, author of The Poke Cookbook and former line cook, talks about how a New York City publisher decided Hawai‘i’s favorite pūpū was for everybody.


50 Essential Hawai‘i Books You Should Read in Your Lifetime


The most iconic, trenchant and irresistible island books, as voted by a panel of literary community luminaries.


Everything You Need to Know About Local Fruit in Hawai‘i


Fruits are part of our history and culture, a way for us to feel connected to our community.


A Local’s Guide to Buying Reef-Safe Sunscreen


Five Hawai‘i brands have created reef-safe sunscreens that are safe for your ʻohana and the ocean. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags