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
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
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.)