After graduating from Punahou, Lois Mitsunaga ’00 ventured on an ambitious path – college (University of Southern California), a master’s degree (University of Hawai‘i), an engineering career, marriage and motherhood.
While her Punahou classmates engaged in various alumni activities, she had little time to connect with the School while juggling her studies, work and parenting two young children. Nevertheless, in the back of her mind, she was frequently thinking about Punahou and how much she valued her 13 years there. She told her husband, Ryan Shindo, whom she wed in 2012, she was committed to eventually giving back to the School. He promised his support.
Last December, Mitsunaga fulfilled her longstanding intent, making a generous gift toward the ongoing construction of the Kosasa Community. The couple elected to have their names attached to the Explorer Dome at the Kosasa playground. This was their first gift to the Ku‘u Punahou campaign.
“I always heard about my friends volunteering for Carnival or other alumni activities, and it made me miss Punahou,” said Mitsunaga, a structural engineer and chief financial officer at Mitsunaga & Associates. “I wanted to be a part of that, but I was busy getting my master’s and working. I told my dad, ‘I just want to be able to give back.’ He said, ‘If you’re busy right now and it’s not the time, work hard, make a lot of money and give back in a big way when you can.’”
She says both her father and mother instilled in her the importance of giving. While her father taught her the importance of financially supporting organizations she believes in, her mother taught her the value of giving time. She remembers her mother serving as parent chair of the Carnival’s Jams and Jellies booth during her junior year at Punahou, and she wants her own children to see her volunteering.
Mitsunaga was named last year to the board of the Punahou Alumni Association (PAA) Hawai‘i chapter, helping plan events and recruiting alumni to support the School.
Punahou was the obvious choice for Mitsunaga’s charitable efforts because she realized, especially after she left for college, how much she benefited from her education. “I really appreciate everything it prepared me for, not just college, but beyond,” she said. “Punahou really teaches you how to succeed in life. And I feel that every time I come back and see the School, it just keeps getting better and better, whether it’s the facilities or curriculum.”
After reaching out to the School, Mitsunaga and Shindo took a tour of the Kosasa Community, including the areas still under construction. They were blown away by the setting, the colors, how integrated the structures are with nature and how calm and peaceful everything felt. The Explorer Dome was an ideal fit for the pair, considering how active their own children are, and how they value outdoor play.
In December, the couple met with President Jim Scott ’70, who Mitsunaga remembers arriving on campus as the School’s new leader in 1994. She was in seventh grade, sitting on Middle Field at Convocation, excited to see him for the first time. As a graduating senior, he handed her a diploma. Now, nearly 25 years later, she once again intersected with Scott, this time as a donor. “It feels like everything is coming full circle,” she said. “It’s really nice to reconnect and be a part of Punahou again.”
All gifts to Punahou help the School achieve its future goals for education through Ku‘u Punahou – The Power of Promise. If you would like to participate in this transformative campaign for Punahou School or learn more about giving opportunities, visit campaign.punahou.edu or call the Advancement Office at 808.944.5839.