Association News
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 8 page 10-10

FIG1 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.


Aloha. More than just "Hello" or "It's good to see you," Aloha seeks to promote the true good of others with no conditions attached, out of a sense of kinship.

When coupled with medical expertise, Aloha converts desperation into genuine hope, fear into confidence, oblivion into clarity. Every time you have taken care of a patient who is angry, uninsured, psychotic, or substance dependent, you have embodied the spirit of Aloha.

Yet we need more than Aloha.

I intend, if elected speaker-elect of the Assembly, to foster a recognition of our APA all across America as a Champion for Our Patients and a Home for Our Profession.

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, and Planning; the Assembly Executive Committee as MUR rep; and Area 7 deputy rep and now serve as your Assembly recorder and on the Joint Reference Committee. I served APA on the Committee on Government Relations and on 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 and enjoy the art of politics. I use this to get the job done and to prevent harm. Whether testifying before APA, the AMA, my state legislature, or Congress or while presiding as vice speaker of the House of Delegates of the Hawaii Medical Association, I have relentlessly advocated for our patients and our profession. Whether persuading a U.S. senator to become the fifth to sign on to parity over 11 years ago, fighting the crash-course prescribers in the home state of their chief national architect for the 14th year now, or by rallying colleagues in testimony, published letters to the editor, and on radio talk shows, I have walked the walk.

In Hawaii, there is an instrument called the ukulele. It has four strings tuned to different, diverse pitches. But if we are able to listen to each string, and if each string is able to listen to the others and join together in consensus, then powerfully beautiful messages can inspire us to do great things for our patients and our profession.

As speaker-elect I will strive to achieve a powerful consensus out of our rich diversity, in a spirit of Aloha, and with it promote our APA as a Champion for Our Patients and a Home for Our Members.

Please cast your vote for me for speaker-elect of the Assembly of APA.

Aloha and Mahalo. (Thank you.)

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