A Talk by Ted Okada '78: Is Hawai'i ready for a catastrophic disaster?
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Dillingham Hall

Hurricanes Lane and Olivia could have been a "one-two" punch of natural disasters for Hawai'i. Climate change is increasing the number of weather-related impacts across the globe. Is Hurricane Maria (2017) in Puerto Rico a foreshadowing of what could happen to us in Hawai'i?

Ted Okada '78 returns to Punahou School to discuss the issues around recent hurricanes and the projected impacts on Honolulu from these major storms. With the growing majority of the population in Hawai'i having little or no memory of Hurricanes Iwa and Iniki, Okada will also discuss the need for island communities to engage in more honest policy conversations not only about immediate disaster response services in times of crisis/disaster but also long term investments the islands may need to shape a more resilient future.

Returning to his alma mater, Okada also hopes students might consider using their talents in the sciences, engineering and data analytics in a career that could help prepare for and respond to future disasters in Hawai'i.

A member of the Senior Executive Service and FEMA's Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Okada is responsible for leading the technology strategy and direction for a wide variety of mission outcomes. Under his leadership, he has aspired to drive FEMA towards the ethos of an "expeditionary start-up organization" by leveraging a broad range of continuous improvement initiatives involving open data, geospatial technologies, as well as a whole community approach to interoperable communications in the event of a disaster.

Okada has over 30 years of experience in international relief and development with a decade in internet services architecture and two technology start-ups. He served as the director of U.S. Global Public Private Partnerships as well as Director of the Humanitarian Systems Group, both positions at Microsoft. In this role, Okada developed solutions to the world's most vexing and least served humanitarian problems. He supported and developed programs in Uganda, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Haiti, DR Congo, Albania, Dominican Republic, Kosovo, Pakistan, Guatemala and the Philippines. With a background in child survival, community health systems, food security, agricultural extension, and emergency management, Okada also managed advocacy programs for refugees during the 1980s and worked on landmark citizenship legislation.

Okada is a 1982 graduate of Northwestern University with a B.A. in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences and Economics, studying under the late Michael Dacey and Nobel laureate, Dale Mortensen. A member of Burke Fire Station 14 in Fairfax County, Virginia, Okada is also a licensed extra class amateur radio operator.

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