C.M. Park Kaleiwahea
Hometown: Waipahu, Hawaii
Role: Assistant sergeant-at-arms, Hawaii Senate
Years of legislative service: 19 total; six years in the House of Representatives as an office manager, eight years as an office manager in the Senate and five years as the chamber’s assistant sergeant-at-arms.
The skill or talent she’s most proud of: “I firmly believe that the role of staff is to make legislators’ jobs easier. I am proud that I can zero in on the needs of the senators and get it done.”
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
I like to say that the Legislature picked me. I was working as the executive director at the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii when our attorney won an election to the House of Representatives and asked me to be his office manager. I fell in love with the work our Legislature does for the people of Hawaii and never looked back.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
I once read a quote that went something like this: “Always give more than what is expected of you.” I really took that to heart. I strive to always do that little bit extra, whether it is to get to the meeting a little bit earlier or to remember what the senators’ likes or dislikes are.
Who or what inspires you?
My children and grandchildren. One of the many reasons that I love working for the Legislature is that the work that is being done in this building can make our state better for them.
What’s one thing you love about your state?
The aloha spirit. It is so important for us that we even put it in the Hawaii Revised Statutes, defining it as “the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force.”
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
I have been an avid reader since childhood, so I can easily go through three to five books a week. How do I have the time? Many who have visited Oahu know how congested our roads and highways can get, and my commute to work is no exception. I take advantage of that time by listening to audiobooks from our library. This week I have “read” “Eat to Beat Disease,” “Atomic Habits,” “The Henna Artist” and “Strangers.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For its “Staff Snapshots” series, State Legislatures News is asking legislative staff about their role in the legislature. If you’d like to suggest a staffer for this series, please email Holly South at NCSL.