Investment Chief Resigning From $12 Billion Hawaii Endowment

The Kamehameha Schoolssystem is searching for a new investment leader as Elizabeth Hokada prepares to retire.

Statue of King Kamehameha in downtown Honolulu. (Bigstock)

Statue of King Kamehameha in downtown Honolulu.


The investment chief for Hawaii’s Kamehameha Schools system plans to retire, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

Kamehameha Schools — which managed $11.5 billion as of June 30, 2017 — is in the early stages of searching for a successor for vice president Elizabeth Hokada. The nonprofit has retained New York City-based recruiting firm David Barrett Partners to assist in its full-scale search, one source said.

Barrett declined to comment on or confirm the information. Officials at Kamehameha Schools could not be reached by time of publication.

Hokada has led the Honolulu-based endowment since late 2011, having joined the organization in 2005. She is to remain in her post through the selection of and transition to a new endowment vice president.

Several people familiar with the investment office expect current team members to apply for the role, which is open to internal and external candidates. Senior director of financial assets Burton Yuen is the highest-ranking team member under Hokada, and seen as a strong contender. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he ascends to role,” said one person close to the team.

Hokada made about $800,000 in 2016 while Yuen pulled in roughly $623,000, IRS filings show, making them two of the three top-paid employees at Kamehameha Schools. The CEO was the second-highest earner.


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The endowment dates back to 1884, when the last descendant of Hawaii’s great unifier King Kamehameha I bequeathed 375,000 acres of ancestral land to an educational trust for Hawaiians, which established Kamehameha Schools.

That gift has grown into an $8 billion diversified investment portfolio and $3.5 billion package of Hawaiian real estate as of June 30, 2017, according to the schools’ latest annual report.

Under Hokada’s leadership, the endowment returned 8.4 percent annualized for the five years ending last June. This was roughly on par with the 8.6 percent median return among its $1 billion-plus peer endowments, NACUBO-Commonfund figures show.

Performance dropped under the peer median this fiscal year, however, according to preliminary figures in a private return database. Kamehameha Schools’ endowment reportedly gained just under 8 percent as of June 30, 2018, versus 9.5 percent among other large nonprofits.