MEO officers and members receive keys to agency

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July 11, 2023

Maui Economic Opportunity’s Board of Directors voted and swore in officers for the 2023-24 year with installing officer retired Judge Rhonda Loo giving out keys to symbolize each members’ responsibility to the 58-year-old Maui County nonprofit.

“There are many reasons to think about locks and keys, and their practical job of locking and unlocking,” Judge Loo told the officers and other directors, who also received keys. “The board officers and members are one of the many keys needed to effectively operate.”

Carol Reimann, Alexander & Baldwin vice president, will lead the 21-member board for a second year as president. She did not attend the event due to illness; member Peter Horovitz stood in for her during the installation.

The rest of the executive team includes Vice President Bard Peterson, vice president for First Hawaiian Bank; Secretary Arleen Gerbig, Lahaina Honolua Senior Citizens Club officer and former president; and Treasurer Cliff Alakai, Maui Medical Group administrator.

The fiscal year for the board, which includes equal representation from government, community and clients sectors, runs from July 1 to June 30, 2024.

The gathering of about 30 people, included Mayor Richard Bissen Jr., state Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran and Council Members Gabe Johnson, who also is a board member, and Tom Cook.

“MEO’s programs are often the lifeline for our people,” the mayor said. “One of things I enjoy most about MEO is that ‘opportunity’ is part of its name, part of its identity,” he said later. “And I believe giving those i need a fair chance to succeed means that as a community and as a society we all succeed.”

Keynote speaker Keith-Agaran noted that MEO grew out of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and quoted *Barbara* Ehrenreich, who said: “Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money.”

“MEO continues to play an important role in improving the lives of Maui’s residents,” he said. “And you as a board, staff and volunteers continue to work on these issues with conviction, optimism, empathy and devotion, what my church would call our foundational virtues of faith and love.”

The Maui Economic Opportunity Board of Directors officers pose for a photo with state Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran (from left) and installing official Rhonda Loo and Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. (right). In-between (from left) are: Secretary Arleen Gerbig, Treasurer Cliff Alakai, Vice President Bard Peterson and Peter Horovitz, standing in for President Carol Reimann, who was ill and could not attend. The new board and officers were installed at a meeting on Friday, July 7, at MEO.

Board Members Dawn Bicoy, who flew from Moloka‘i, and Arleen Gerbig chat before the MEO board meeting and installation on Friday, July 7, at MEO in Wailuku.

MEO Vice President Bard Peterson addresses the 30 people in attendance for the MEO Board Meeting/Installation on Friday, July 7.

Board group with Debbie (left)

Gil Keith-Agaran offered the keynote address.

Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. joked that he could extend his remarks given the “short” MEO agenda.

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