Experts At Exceeding Expectations

They say if you want something done, give it to the busiest person. The axiom seems counterintuitive, but it is common practice in management delegation.

There’s a good reason busy people are in high demand. For them, failure simply is not an option. They appreciate the value of time and do not waste it.

Bert Kobayashi and Dee Jay Mailer are examples of busy people who get things done. Thank goodness, too. Their leadership in our community makes miracles happen.


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Dee Jay Mailer and Bert Kobayashi. Photo courtesy Kapiolani Health Foundation

As co-chairs of the capital campaign for Kapiolani Health Foundation, they helped raise more than $30 million to launch a multiphase redevelopment of Hawaii’s largest women and children’s hospital.

At a time when nonprofits are stretched for financial resources, it takes inspired leadership and persuasive power to find millions of dollars in people’s pocketbooks and hearts.

To do so while managing one’s own demanding career makes the feat even more remarkable.

Culminating a two-year campaign period, Kobayashi and Mailer are “ecstatic” to report that the goal of $30 million has been exceeded for the first phase of Kapiolani Medical Center’s reconstruction and expansion.

At a recent donor dinner, the foundation announced it had $34,882,930 in donations and pledges to fund the first phase of a 15-year master plan.

Phase I renovation will allow family-centered care with a combined 84 private rooms in the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units.

“Since we officially launched the campaign in 2011, we have enjoyed an overwhelming show of support from the broadest reaches of our community – from philanthropic organizations to corporations in every business sector, to extraordinarily generous individual donations (two anonymous gifts of $3 million each),” reports Michael Robinson, president of Kapiolani Health Foundation.

No small part of that was thanks to the leverage, leadership and cheerleading spirit of Kobayashi and Mailer.

“We knew we had to assemble the most committed and respected individuals in the community to serve as our campaign chairs,” Robinson says.

Spearheading a motivated development team, Kobayashi and Mailer brought their experience, connections and sage counsel to the fundraising effort.

“There’s nothing that bolsters an organization’s strengths better than results,” Mailer says.

She should know. For the past 10 years, Mailer has been chief executive officer of Kamehameha Schools, Hawaii’s largest private landowner and a $9 billion trust. As she retires to spend time with her daughters and grandchildren in Idaho and Oregon, she will keep her civic-minded ties to Hawaii by supporting causes such as the early childhood education initiative. But for this former Kapiolani nurse and chief executive officer for Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu, health care clearly is among her passions.

“Working at both Kapiolani and Kaiser Permanente, I got to see the caring of children in the most critical situations,” she says. “The number of births and children being cared for at Kapiolani has grown exponentially, and yet the size of facilities has remained the same.

“I remember the neonatal and intensive care units at Kapiolani when I was a nurse back in the ’70s and ’80s,” Mailer reflects. “Due to limited space, families were not able to stay with their children. Research shows that patients heal better and faster when families are involved with their care.”

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children is the state’s only full-service children’s hospital and only high-risk maternity center in the Pacific. As a teaching hospital, Kapiolani facilitates research and development of new treatments in prenatal, neonatal and children’s medicine. It also serves the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine as a training ground for future pediatricians, obstetricians and gynecologists.

This high standard of health professionalism is not lost on Kobayashi.

As senior adviser to family-owned Kobayashi Group, he is one of Hawaii’s prominent success stories. As a teenager, he stepped in to help run his ailing father’s business, A.C. Kobayashi Construction, which eventually was sold under an employee stock plan. He later founded Kobayashi Group, a real estate/investment firm that has developed more than $3 billion worth of property, including Kapolei Commons shopping center and Hokua luxury condominium.

He has been involved with Kapiolani Health Foundation since 1990, serving as its board chairman from 1996 to 2006. This gave him and wife Susan an insightful look at the philanthropic support of serving patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

“Kapiolani’s vision is to bring women’s and children’s health care to the next level,” he says. “Medicine is changing constantly, and we must respond to miraculous, breakthrough treatments now available to help patients.

“This is great for Hawaii,” he hails. “Our reputation for having great facilities as well as terrific doctors and nurses is reaching beyond our shores to Asia and the Pacific.”

Kapiolani Medical Center, an affiliate of Hawaii Pacific Health, seems well-positioned to be a national and international leader in family-centered pediatric and women’s care.

But dreams must have an infrastructure in place to make things happen. That’s what the Kapiolani capital campaign is all about. It begins with the awareness and understanding of the community it serves.

As Kobayashi and Mailer put it, “We can’t take these facilities for granted.”