Monday, May 17, 1999Name:Paula Yoshioka
Education: California State University at Sacramento
Position: Lt. Gov. chief of staff
Hobbies: Spending time with daughter
While growing up in a military family, Paula Yoshioka learned to be "fiercely independent," a quality that has helped her launch a career in administration.
Lt. gov's new aide
Yoshioka, whose father was in the Air Force, and her family moved to five or six areas of the mainland. At age 19 she was working for California's health department -- and earned enough money for night school to get a bachelor's degree in finance at the California State University at Sacramento. At 29 she was promoted to a high-ranking civil service position.
Such experiences, she said, gave her a better perspective of people and the ability to adapt well in different situations.
As Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono's new chief of staff, Yoshioka said she can't ask for a better job, doing the kind of work she loves most.
Most recently, Yoshioka was a deputy director at the state Health Department. She replaces Marian Tsuji, who joined the Public Safety Department as its deputy director in charge of prisons.
"For me, this was an opportunity to help the lieutenant governor on statewide issues, because she's involved in so many of them," Yoshioka said. "The challenge for me is to keep up with her. She's incredible."
Yoshioka has had years of experience in state government, having performed budget analysis, program development and administrative roles. Before moving to Hawaii in 1992, she spent more than 10 years working for California's social services, mental health, forestry and finance departments.
Yoshioka brings a lot of knowledge about health issues as the state moves toward becoming a health center for the Pacific, Hirono said. "She's enthusiastic, creative and experienced. We're going to accomplish a lot and make a good team."
A single mom, Yoshioka loves to spend time with her 6-year-old daughter, a public school kindergartner. Yoshioka reads books with her daughter every night, and they go swimming together on the weekends.
Being a mom, she said, has been the greatest achievement of her life.
"Like most parents, you want to make sure that your kids grow up in a healthy environment and that their future is secure," Yoshioka said. "I see the lieutenant governor as a leader, and I want to be able to help her do that."
Shirley Iida, Star-Bulletin