In Loving Memory of Patty Sakal

Former Vice President

Patty Sakal

American Sign Language Interpreter


Patty Sakal was a Sign Language interpreter for over 35 years. Her work as a Sign Language Interpreter allowed her to experience a wide range of settings, including employment, medical, mental health, legal and theater.  Her favorite working experiences are theater, mental health and working in-depth with individuals who are Deaf with limited language proficiency.  


Patty successfully raised three beautiful daughters as a single parent.  She became an ordained minister in 2013.  Through the years, Patty was part of a dance group with some interpreter friends (who she describes as “crazy”) called the Velvets.  They performed at various Deaf events with their infamous song, “Love Shack”!  That’s Patty in the pink wig!


In her spare time she loved spending time with her grandchildren, playing music -- she played guitar, drums, vocals -- and writing songs, painting, and surrounding herself with people who celebrate and embrace life with laughter, love and joy. Oh, and Patty loved making people laugh!  Some say she should do Stand-Up!  


Patty’s involvement with GEM is a personal one.  Georgia E. Morikawa was her mother.  Her life, her passion, her work, her legacy, her dream, and everything she represented embodies GEM.   Within the last year, Patty had a compelling call to serve the community in a greater capacity, wanting to go beyond her work as an interpreter.  She believed the timing is right in bringing the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind communities together in unity and momentum. The goal is to collaborate with organizations which represent and serve these populations to develop resources and services our communities so desperately need, and to empower, educate, and advocate for our communities to live productive and fulfilled lives.


The inspirational fire of Georgia E. Morikawa is alive and well in our community, and yet countless generations have yet to be touched by her flame.  It is Patty’s hope and dream to see GEM become a reality in her lifetime, which will carry out the vision her mom, Georgia E. Morikawa, began.  


Colin Whited

Communication Access Specialist 

Disability and Communication Access Board, Department of Health


For two years, Colin served as the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Project Specialist with the Pacific Disabilities Center (PDC). The mission of PDC is to lead and to develop projects that improve the lives of people with disabilities in Hawai’i by integrating culturally-based, community-engaged, and technologically innovative solutions. Through this capacity Colin has worked on a variety of projects, including the Hawai’i Neurotrauma Registry and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Consumer Satisfaction Survey.


Colin is currently working as the Communication Access Specialist for the Disability and Communication Access Board, continuing his mission of improving the lives of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals and ensuring that effective communication is established. Colin oversees the interpreter credentialing program and works on the administrative rules regarding communication access services. 


Colin graduated from Gallaudet University -- the world’s only liberal arts college for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students -- with a degree in Government and minors in Business Administration and History. Colin currently resides in Honolulu. He has been actively involved in the local community, namely with the Aloha State Association of the Deaf, the Hawai’i School for the Deaf and the Blind School and Community Council, the Disability and Communication Access Board, and Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland's Deaf and Blind Task Force. In his spare time, Colin, who calls himself a political junkie, enjoys spending time with close friends, playing pickup basketball, cheering on sports teams from the Hoosier state, and showing people why the world needs more foodies.


Colin’s reasons for being involved with GEM derive from his commitment to serving the Deaf community. For Colin, this commitment is inherent; he was born and raised in a Deaf family, which has had Deaf people dating back to the early 19th century. Stressing the importance of culture and community, Colin believes GEM’s significance lies in what it affords the community: a center that is truly of, by, and for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people of Hawai’i.


Kamaile Hopfe

Program Support Technician 

Disability and Communication Access Board




Kamaile serves as the Secretary on the GEM Executive Board. She was born and raised on the Big Island in a  town called Ocean View in Ka‘u. Kamaile graduated from Kamehameha Schools Kapalama campus on O'ahu. She obtained an Associate’s in International Business degree from Remington College and received her Bachelor's Degree in Public Administration. 


Kamaile has been working at the Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB) for five years as a Program Support Technician. Her prime responsibilities include supporting the Communication Access Unit, the Parking Program, and the overall technical aspects of DCAB to ensure the flow of operations runs smoothly.


Kamaile’s interest in GEM started when she began her journey at DCAB. She was immediately fascinated by ASL and wanted to learn more in order to effectively communicate with other members of DCAB. Since then, Kamaile has learned basic conversation signs and hopes to continue learning ASL and hopes to continue learning about Deaf culture through schooling and by interacting with members of the Deaf community. 


Gerald Isobe

Financial Management Analyst

Naval Health Clinic – Pearl Harbor


Gerald Isobe hopes to bring a skill set to the GEM Board which combines his: 1) passion and love for the game of golf; 2) his work experience in accounting and finance; and 3) his enthusiasm for raising money and cultural awareness for all things Deaf-Related.


Gerald was born profoundly deaf.  Through his parent’s legislative advocacy and the visionary push of motivational teachers, he was one of the first deaf students to be mainstreamed through the public school system in Hawaii.  


When Gerald attended elementary school at Diamond Head School for the Deaf and Blind, sign language was not taught.  The curriculum emphasized oral communication - lip reading and speech communication.  When he mainstreamed to Kahala Elementary in the sixth grade and moved onto Central Intermediate and then to McKinley High School, there were no sign language interpreters, only volunteer note takers - a critical void which spurred Gerald’s interest and life-long commitment to teaching sign language and raising deaf awareness within the hearing population.   Gerald taught American and Japanese sign language in Hawaii and Okinawa for over 30 years through the DOE’s continuing education program.


Living by his motto, that he must “try 3 times harder”, Gerald graduated from McKinley in 1971 at the top third of his Class.  His rank, 299 out of 801 students.  In 1999, he was humbled to be inducted into McKinley High School’s Hall of Honor.

Significantly, Gerald first learned “total communication” sign language in his first year of college at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), affiliated with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York.  Gerald graduated from RIT College of Business in 1976, with a degree in accounting.  In 1988, Gerald was named RIT Distinguished Alumnus of NTID.

In college, Gerald played for RIT golf team, in all four years, qualifying in NCAA Division II & III Championships three (3) times.  As a junior, he was named to the NCAA Division III All-American 6-man Third Team.  As a senior, he received NTID Award for Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year.  In 2001, Gerald was inducted into RIT Sports Hall of Fame.


Gerald has worked for the Department of Defense (DoD) for 38 years, as an accountant, supervisory accountant and a financial management analyst.  In 2003, Gerald was recognized for being one of several Outstanding DoD Employees with Disabilities, in Washington D.C.  


Golf has opened doors for Gerald and allowed him to give back to the community.  He served as the head coach of Punahou School’s Junior Varsity Golf Boy and Girl Teams for 12 years (1992-2004) leading them to victories and raising student awareness about the deaf and hearing impaired.  He has been a regular participant in the National and World Deaf Golf Tournaments (WDGC).  In 1982, he placed first in the inaugural national deaf championship in Connecticut.  Since then, he has flown more than 170,000 miles to compete in qualifying tournaments in the Continental U.S. and throughout the world including South Africa, Ireland, Sweden, Japan, and Denmark, representing the U.S.A. team.  July 2018 will mark the ninth (9) time he will compete in the bi-annual WDGC, which will be held in Ireland.  In 2015, Gerald was inducted into the United States Deaf Golf Association (USDGA) Hall of Fame.


In the past, Gerald has served as a board member, treasurer, and golf fundraiser for the Hawaii Service on Deafness (HSOD) and the Aloha State Association (ASAD).  He has served as GEM’s Treasurer since July 2016.  It is his goal to serve as a role model and mentor to the deaf and hearing impaired community and to improve the lives of our deaf keiki and kupuna by working toward improving the quality of their education, employment opportunities and social/cultural inclusion.


Karl Mikasa
Management Assistant
United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation


As a management assistant at the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation, Karl creates and develops web based tools/applications for the office. He also maintains the office computer user access for all incoming/outgoing employees.  In addition, Karl administers and provides technical assistance to other branches throughout the Pacific:  Hawaii, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Pohnpei and Palau. 


Karl was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. During his spare time he enjoys fishing, spear diving, hunting and traveling.


Karl joined the GEM Board because his parents are deaf.  He remembers how there were no programs and services for his parents while growing up, and seeing his parents frustrated is what motivated him to join GEM.  It is through Karl’s part time job with Sorenson Communications that he has met many deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals statewide with the same frustrations as his parents. Karl’s goal is to use GEM as a resource to address these community concerns and assist in developing statewide programs and services.


Kristine Pagano

Administrative Officer

Disability and Communication Access Board, Department of Health


For twelve years, Kristine Pagano was the Communication Access Specialist with the State of Hawaii Department of Health - Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB). At DCAB, Kristine administered the interpreter credentialing program, the administrative rules relating to the utilization of communication access services, provided staff support for committee meetings, conducted workshops on laws that impacted persons with communication access needs, and maintained effective working relationships in the community.  


Recently, Kristine received a promotion as the DCAB Administrative Officer to manage the Administrative and Clerical Services staff.  Her new position coordinates DCAB's fiscal and administrative activities, including overseeing budget preparation and expenditure control, fiscal recordkeeping and reporting, and personnel documentation. Kristine looks forward to her new responsibilities to refine her leadership skills. 


Kristine graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communicology formerly Speech and Master of Public Administration degree.  As a former Miss Deaf Hawaii, she is a strong advocate for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community for many years.


Kristine was born and raised in Aiea, Hawaii.


Kristine enjoys swimming, cooking and spending time with her husband, Ian and two children.


When Kristine was young, Georgia Morikawa inspired her.  Then through her employment with DCAB as the Communication Access Specialist Kristine understood the needs of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  The community needs education, employment, medical, mental health and legal assistance to live a productive and fulfilled life.  


GEM is the community center destined to develop and provide programs and direct services to the community. Being involved with the GEM is a personal one for Kristine as she knew Georgia from 1995 until her passing in 2001.  Georgia mentored Kristine as the Miss Deaf Hawaii Pageant Director.  It is through Georgia, Kristine was introduced to the operations of a nonprofit organization.  Kristine is very concerned for the elderly Deaf and Hard of Hearing receiving poor health services in nursing or care homes.  Kristine’s ultimate GEM goal is a Deaf senior facility where the community can be surrounded by people who communicate in ASL or receive effective communication on a daily basis and live life to the fullest.

Other Members of GEM