Mother of the year relies on family


POSTED: Thursday, April 23, 2009

How does Janet Liang manage to run a major Hawaii health care organization and a Kailua household with two daughters, serve on social service agency boards and support children's programs?

“;With a lot of help,”; says the 42-year-old president of Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. “;I have a very supportive family and very supportive co-workers.”;

Liang is one of 30 women honored nationally by Working Mother magazine as “;Working Mothers of the Year”; for balancing careers, families and self-development.

In a recent telephone interview from California where she was attending a meeting, Liang said she is “;embarrassed a little bit”; by the honor. “;I know there are so many single parents and in more difficult situations. I hope I can provide some level of inspiration that they're not alone.”;

She said her family life was hectic until she and her husband, Zack Jones, decided he would remain home to take care of the house and children. “;I feel fortunate to have a situation where one of us can stay home ... and I think it's great that my daughters get to spend so much time with their dad. If I'm not there or traveling, I know they're OK.”;

Her husband volunteers at the girls' school, Le Jardin Academy, is assistant coach and videotapes school performances and events she misses, she said. “;We try to re-create our own experience at home. He does a really nice job to make sure we stay connected even though I'm not around as much.

“;Weekends are family time.”; The girls — Mara, 7, and Macy, 5 — have sports activities, and the family cooks and goes out together, she said. “;We focus on quality time.”;

Liang was with Group Health Cooperative in Seattle before becoming president of Kaiser Permanente Hawaii in 2007. She is a member of the Hawaii Business Roundtable, Healthcare Executive Study Society, Presidents Organization-Hawaii Chapter, board director for Kaiser Permanente Insurance Co. and a trustee on Le Jardin Academy's board.

For women who are struggling to manage a career and a home, she said, “;everybody needs to have a support network,”; which they can find with neighbors, co-workers or friends. “;There are ways to build that network for yourself. I know it's very, very difficult.”;

She said Kaiser tries to support employees in that situation with jobs that have more flexibility, with flex staffing and job-sharing.

“;I know two women who take turns picking up kids at school,”; she said. Both are at the same school, and they rotate on who has to leave early to pick them up, she said.