HONOLULU, May 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Hawaiian Electric Industries (NYSE: HE) (HEI) announced today that Jeff Watanabe, chairman of HEI's board of directors, retired from the board at the company's annual shareholder meeting on May 5. Retired Admiral Tom Fargo was elected as the new chairman of the board, effective May 5.
Watanabe has chaired the HEI board since 2006, and previously served as a director on the Hawaiian Electric and American Savings Bank boards, HEI's operating subsidiaries. He was managing partner of Watanabe Ing & Komeiji and has served on a number of public company boards, including Matson and Alexander & Baldwin.
Watanabe has been one of the most influential figures in Hawaii over the past four decades. He chaired several nonprofit boards, including Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, Child & Family Service, Consuelo Foundation, Blood Bank, Sesame Workshop and University of Hawaii Foundation. Watanabe's board service extended to other institutions, including Queen's Health System and Medical Center, Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, Punahou School, First Insurance of Hawaii Foundation, Child & Family Service-Philippines and the HEI Charitable Foundation.
"Jeff's incredible breadth of experience and wisdom from a lifetime of being deeply involved in every aspect of Hawaii's growth and in national and international affairs provided steady leadership for our boards and helped guide HEI through many economic cycles and inflection points over the past 14 years," said Connie Lau, HEI president and CEO. "During his tenure, Hawaiian Electric became a leader in renewable energy, electrification of transportation and grid modernization, while continuing to deliver on its vision of creating resilient, sustainable communities. American Savings Bank also grew to become one of Hawaii's leading financial institutions."
"I leave HEI's chairmanship in very good hands with Tom," said Watanabe. "The board was unanimous in its support of his leadership and will collaborate with him closely as it pursues an ambitious renewable energy agenda, builds a strong local economy and continues to drive value for customers and shareholders."
Fargo has been an independent director of HEI's board since 2005 and served as chair of the compensation committee. In addition to his decades of leadership experience, Fargo brings to the board deep knowledge of the U.S. military, a major customer of HEI's electric utility subsidiary and a key driver of Hawaii's economy.
Born in San Diego, Fargo attended high school in Coronado, CA, and Sasebo, Japan. He has been a resident of Hawaii since 1999 and appreciates its unique community and business needs.
"Hawaii is my home and I cannot be more honored to take on this role for a local company that serves our community," said Fargo. "I am excited to work with my fellow board members and HEI management as we continue our focus on the prosperity of our island home, being a catalyst for a better Hawaii and providing value for all of our stakeholders."
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Fargo served in the Navy for 35 years, including six tours in Washington, D.C., and five commands in the Pacific and Indian oceans and Middle East. In his last military assignment, he served as commander of U.S. Pacific Command, based here on Oahu, leading the largest unified command while directing the joint operations of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force from May 2002 until his retirement from the Navy in March 2005.
Fargo has top level management, strategic planning and financial and non-financial risk assessment skills developed over 40 years of leading nine organizations ranging in size from 130 to 300,000 people and managing budgets up to $8 billion. He currently serves on other public company boards, including Matson and The Greenbrier Companies. Fargo recently retired as Chairman of Huntington Ingalls Industries in addition to previous service on the boards of Alexander & Baldwin, Hawaiian Holdings and Northrop Grumman. He has served on numerous nonprofit boards throughout Hawaii.
HEI supplies power to approximately 95% of Hawaii's population through its electric utility, Hawaiian Electric; provides a wide array of banking and other financial services to consumers and businesses through American Savings Bank, one of Hawaii's largest financial institutions; and helps advance Hawaii's clean energy and sustainability goals through investments by its non-regulated subsidiary, Pacific Current, LLC. Hawaii is pursuing some of the most aggressive climate goals in the U.S., including a 100% renewable energy portfolio standard for electricity and a carbon-neutral goal for the entire economy. HEI is deeply involved in helping Hawaii achieve these goals.
Avelino J. Halagao
Vice President, Corporate & Community Advancement
(808) 543-7625 | [email protected]
SOURCE Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc.