I was born in Maui on August 9, 1953, to the Rev. Abraham Akaka, a
Chinese—Native Hawaiian Protestant minister and community activist, and
Mary Louise Jeffrey, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. His
East and her West had met as summer camp counselors in Rocky Mountain National
Park. She crossed the Pacific in wartime to marry him. I was their fifth
child, the only son—Dad was happy. I grew up surfing and bicycling. I
sold newspapers, worked in a bicycle shop, and worked in the Pineapple
Cannery. At Case-Western Reserve University in Cleveland, I dated, did
endocrine research, and volunteered in a free clinic.
After graduating, I pedaled my bicycle across Canada from Niagara Falls to
Vancouver before catching a plane back to Hawaii and University of Hawaii
Medical School. From 1980-83, I completed five Hawaii Ironman Triathlons.
Clerkships in San Francisco, Cooperstown, New York City, and New Orleans led
to an internal medicine internship and psychiatric residency at St. Vincent's
Hospital in Manhattan. I then did house calls on psychiatric emergencies in
all five boroughs for the City of New York, usually with social workers,
sometimes with locksmiths and police, rarely with SWAT teams.
My wife, Gayln, and I love New York, but we returned to Honolulu in 1991 so
that our children could grow up surrounded by our families. I became medical
director of the Diamond Head CMHC. I train medical students and residents
there as an associate clinical professor of the University of Hawaii
department of psychiatry. On 9/9/2001, I flew to Hawaii from Dulles after an
APA meeting on the same flight that 36 hours later was hijacked on 9/11. Since
then, I spend many more evenings at home with my family than I used to.
Greatest source of pride: my family.
The recorder of the Assembly is the keeper of our history. Our records are
the embodiment of our debate, our efforts to define the best of whom we are
and what we seek to accomplish. What kind of history will we leave for those
In old Hawaii, the island of Kahoolawe sustained human life. The remains of
fishing villages and stone factories can still be seen. But the land was
devastated, rendered barren by decades of bombing practice by the U.S. Navy;
the fresh water table below it was cracked and ruined.
We physicians have also taken huge hits. Many colleagues have given up. But
neither Kahoolawe nor our predecessors gave up. On Kahoolawe, hardier plants
are beginning to sprout by shifting to nourishment by rain. Our predecessors
left us a history to use as pillars upon which we can lean as we restore our
strength and upon which we can climb again to restore the vision of APA. Our
turn is now.
I joined the APA Assembly in 1992, as deputy representative of the Caucus
of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Psychiatrists. I have
served on the Assembly committees on Public and Community Psychiatry,
Procedures, Planning, and MURs (chairing it twice) and currently serve on the
Assembly Executive Committee as Area 7 deputy representative. I also served on
the Committee on Government Relations and the Joint Commission on Government
Relations, and now serve on the APAPAC board and as an APA delegate
to the AMA.
Two Hawaii governors appointed me to Hawaii's Medical Advisory Board: I
served as chair during my second term. President Clinton appointed me to the
President's Committee on Mental Retardation.
I understand the art of politics. I know how political organizations are
structured. I have used this understanding both to get the job done and to
prevent harm. In every organizational setting in which I have
worked—whether presiding as vice speaker of the House of Delegates of
the Hawaii Medical Association or working in a committee, board, council, or
delegation, whether testifying before APA, the AMA, my state legislature, or
the Congress of the United States of America—I have been relentless in
advocating for our patients and our profession. Over 10 years ago I persuaded
a U.S. senator to become one of the earliest to cosponsor Sen. Pete Domenici's
parity bill. Thirteen years ago I put together a coalition that grew to
include physicians, patients, parents, psychologists, nurses, social workers,
and business, community, and government leaders. On March 8, 2005, 13 years
later, this coalition yet again defeated the Crash Course Prescribers in the
home state of their chief national architect.
Vision. Energy. Tenacity. I have gotten the job done. I am confident that I
will serve you well as Assembly recorder.
Please entrust to me the keepership of our history. Please give me your
vote for the recorder of the Assembly of APA.
Hard work has been second nature for me starting at an early age. A
combination of scholarship money and four years of work/study efforts helped
pay for college and for medical school loans, and hospital jobs paid the
During the period I attended University of Alabama Medical School,
psychiatry was not held in high regard. When revealing a desire to be a
psychiatrist, I was told, "Psychiatry is what you do when you don't want
to hurt someone." That was not the case at Vanderbilt University School
of Medicine, where I became chief resident.
I was hired as a faculty member at the University of Louisville School of
Medicine, and after several formative years running the Outpatient Clinic at
the University of Louisville Hospital, I went into private practice. I have
been a teacher of medical students and residents over the years and now am a
clinical associate professor.
I divide my day seeing both inpatients and outpatients and in the past have
had work experiences including five years as a director of an inpatient unit,
a chemical dependency group leader with ASAM certification, and even for a
time the director of a mental health management group. Seeing a significant
geriatric population, I am certified with added qualifications in geriatric
I met my wife when we were both crisis-center volunteers in my third year
in medical school. She is obviously a saint to still love and care for me for
29 years. I have three terrific children; although now grown, they fortunately
do not live far away.
I am an active volunteer in the community and on several boards, including
the Kentucky Mental Health Association. I teach Tai Chi to seniors twice
weekly and am also a hospice volunteer.
It is an honor to be a candidate for recorder of the Assembly, a wonderful
institution I have served for 16 years with passion and dedication. As an Area
representative, I have been privileged to guide Area activities, and as the
chair of the Committee on Planning, I am responsible for decisions ranging
from the smallest Assembly details to broader budgetary and long-range
planning issues. Continuous innovation and improvement, asking the tough
questions, consensus building, and mutual respect have been hallmarks of both
leadership roles. Because this is a critical time in our profession I have
been actively working with Assembly leadership and the APA Board on
scope-of-practice issues and equitable access and funding for psychiatric
care. I continue to fight aggressively any interference in our practicing the
best quality medicine possible. By authoring action papers with those in other
Areas and founding the Assembly District Branch Best Practices Award, I have
proven my commitment for sharing information and inclusiveness. I am a true
believer in the collective wisdom of the Assembly and how our diversity and
energy effectively represent membership. The following Assembly activities
exemplify my past and current efforts, and I have listed only authored action
papers that advocate for membership. Together we have become a powerful voice
for our patients and profession, the most creative and vital force in APA, and
I would greatly appreciate your vote.
Authored Action Papers Advocating for Our Profession