Lau awaits successor on Kamehameha board
Constance Lau, the newly named chief executive officer and president of Hawaii Electric Industries Inc., plans to wait for the appointment of a successor before she steps down from the board of Kamehameha Schools.
Lau, 53, who served as the chief executive office and president of HEI subsidiary American Savings Bank, will take the helm of HEI in May when its current chief executive officer and chairman, Robert Clarke, 63, retires.
Lau was one of five people tapped by the Probate Court in 1999 to take over trusteeship of Kamehameha in the wake of separate state and federal investigations into financial improprieties and mismanagement that led to the ouster of the former board of trustees.
Lau, who will be the first woman to lead a major publicly traded company in Hawaii, said in an e-mail to staff that she was "incredibly saddened" to leave Kamehameha.
Lau was among those appointed by the Probate Court to an interim board organized to oversee the schools during the court-ordered conversion to a management structure based on a strong chief executive officer and other changes in management and financial practices aimed at avoiding possible future abuses.
Lau's current five-year term was set to expire in June 2008. Lau and her fellow board members earn about $100,000 a year for serving on the board, compared with the ousted board, in which each member earned about $1 million.
Retired Vice Adm. Robert Kihune, chairman of the board of trustees, had high praise for Lau's work at Kamehameha. In a message to Kamehameha's 1,700 employees, Kihune said, "From the day that we first came to Kamehameha Schools as members of the interim board of trustees, Connie struck me as the consummate professional -- compassionate and competent, highly skilled and intelligent -- exactly what Kamehameha needed in its leadership."
In a statement, Lau said, "When I agreed to become a regular trustee, I gave my word to trustee Kihune that I would stay on until Kamehameha had transitioned to the court-mandated CEO-based management system. While that system is still in its infancy, it has come a long way in recent years, and I feel good about the capable and strong leadership of CEO (Dee Jay) Mailer and the expertise and professionalism of the executive management team that she has built."