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Kelvin Taketa Collaborates for Change in the Aloha State

Kelvin Taketa has spent his entire nonprofit career in Hawaii, and that’s the way he likes it. Returning home after law school, Taketa’s first role was to establish The Nature Conservancy on Hawaii – and then expand it across other Pacific islands. But in 1998, in a move that he calls a “completion of the arc” in trying “to make a difference” there, he became CEO for the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. At the time, the foundation comprised a newly independent mix of funds from 700 donors and Taketa defined his job as making it “more robust and meaningful for the larger community.” That he has done, through hard work and innovations.

One of the more recent innovations is a program launched to invest in the state’s technology capacity, which will speed up the delivery of benefits to those in need and “benefit everyone in Hawaii.” Taketa solicited seed money for this initiative from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam in an arms-length transaction negotiated with the state legislature and unions.

Such ingenuity underlies Taketa’s belief in creating “an ecosystem” where “philanthropists and government and the private sector… all work together towards a shared goal.” Indeed, more innovations will be required to navigate what Taketa labels “an inflection point”: a hairpin turn in trends ranging from increasing community needs and dwindling government funding to new technologies that meet demands for more transparency in the nonprofit sector.

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