“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”
– Helen Keller
Striving to enhance communication, promote equality and create opportunities for Hawaii’s Blind and Visually Impaired
Realizing Our Vision
We are expanding our youth services by creating more projects and activities to promote continued growth in technology and social skills that will empower them to cope with everyday challenges and prepare them for adulthood.
We are also taking steps to cultivate more guide dog handlers by bringing active teams together to promote the benefits of working with guide dogs and holding informational sessions for individuals thinking of partnering with one of these intelligent professional canines.
We aim to work more with individuals seeking job training and interpersonal skill building by partnering with community businesses and groups to guide our individuals on their vocational journey.
We are committed to making sure our seniors are not forgotten by ensuring that they have the tools that enable them to continue living independently as well as a program to encourage wellness of body and mind.
Empower the Blind and Visually Impaired of Hawai’i to conquer barriers by providing guide dog support, technology aids, mobility training, and community access to participate in everyday activities.
Meet our Board of Directors
Brian Tilker – President
Brian Tilker is a Director with the law firm of Torkildson, Katz, Hetherington, Harris & Knorek. He specializes in business and employment litigation. He is originally from New York where he practiced law for seven years before moving to Honolulu in 2011. Prior to joining the GDH Board and in addition to his private practice, Brian was a Lecturer of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law teaching a legal writing and advocacy course to first-year law students.
Victoria M. Cozloff – Treasurer
Born in Hilo Hawaii, Victoria moved to Oahu in her teens and graduated from Kaimuki High School. She recently Retired after 45 years with Safeway Stores, where she was a clerk in the District Office then transferred out to retail stores as a Front End Manager. One of her rewarding experiences was being a mentor in Safeway’s new hire training and Superior Customer Service program. She was also employed by Guide Dogs of Hawaii as the Executive Secretary for over 20 years and has since been a volunteer member of the Board of Directors holding the position of Treasurer.
Trudy Fernandez – Secretary
A dog lover, Trudy joined GDH in 2002 as a dog walker. Her first walking mate, Guide Dog Argy, convinced her that guide dogs are not only great workers. They are great pals. She brought her administrative skills and non-profit experience to GDH, participating in various event plannings and for several years now, she continues to serves as the secretary on out board of directors. In addition to working as “a contract coordinator with MDX Hawaii for over 8 years, she furthered her education at UH West Oahu in Humanities, language and literature.
Kenneth Kaneshiro – Director
Ken is an independent representative with LPL Financial. He is a Qualifying & Life Member of the Million Dollar Round Table and Court of the Table. He specializes in 401k plans, executive benefits, and life insurance planning in both the personal and business markets.
In addition to serving as President of GDH, Ken actively volunteers with Hawai`i Literacy, the Honolulu Rotary Club, and the Hawai`i Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.
Ron Nagasawa – Director
Ron Nagasawa is the director of content/supplemental products for Oahu publications, Inc. He also oversees MidWeek, Kauai Midweek and Hawaii Island Midweek. That includes five weekly community newspapers, The Voice, in their respective areas. He is charged with the special section division of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which includes Sunday restaurant guide Dining Out, home remodeling guide Hawaii Renovation and the Wednesday Star-Advertiser food section, Crave. Ron writes a humor column for MidWeek, called What’s Next. He has been in the local newspaper publishing business for 37 years. Has served on the boards of the Honolulu Police Community Foundation, American Cancer Society Hawaii, and KAMP Hawaii.
Susan Nonaka – Director
Susan Nonaka is Vice President of General Services at Hawai‘i Pacific Health, responsible for Food & Nutrition Services, Environmental Services, Facilities Maintenance, Safety & Security, Biomedical Engineering, and Emergency Management. Ms. Nonaka has a Bachelor of Science degree in Food and Nutritional Sciences and a Master of Public Health degree, both from the University of Hawai‘i. She is a Registered Dietitian, having completed her dietetic internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts; and her master’s field work in Seattle, Washington. She worked as a renal dietitian for St. Francis Renal Institute; Dietary Department Head at Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital; director of the Food & Nutrition Department and executive director of Support Services at Wilcox Memorial Hospital before joining Hawaii Pacific Health.
Michele Kurihara-Klein – Director
Michele Kurihara-Klein serves as the Legislative Officer for the Hawaii Government Employees Association where she executes the union’s legislative and political agendas on behalf of its 40,000 members via lobbying at the State Capitol and supporting endorsed candidates running for elected office. She is a proud member of the Pacific Century Fellows, Class of 2016 and serves on the Domestic Violence Action Center Board of Directors and the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. Born and raised in Kaneohe, Michele now lives in Kaka’ako with her husband and daughter.
Ruby Fernandez – director
Guide Dogs of Hawaii has a special place in my heart ever since one of the Sacred Hearts Alumnae brought their guide dog to a mass. When a friend asked me to volunteer in organizing the GDH fundraiser that same week, I was excited. With my background in event planning and communications, I hope to be an asset to the team. I am currently the Student Activities Coordinator for Island Pacific Academy. I have been an English teacher for both independent and public schools for the past 15 years. I have a back ground in literature as well as business. When I’m not spending my free time with family, I’m visiting friends on the mainland and exploring new travel destinations.
Meet Our Operating Team
Our successes come from not just our skills; it is a result of our collective compassion and ability to listen.
Jeanne Torres – Executive Director
“It is my belief that continuity services should be available to our blind and visually impaired residents to allow them to adapt confidently and safely to our continually evolving world. It is this belief that motivates me to work toward the day when any BVI can come into GDH and seek help adjusting to life’s circumstances, at any time of one’s lifetime.”
Diane Taketa – Accounting/HR Administrator
“GDH as a non-profit has a mission to reach the visually impaired for the state of Hawaii, with tools and education to assist them with their daily lives, and to see clients grow toward their goals and enjoy their journey with GDH is reward in itself.”
Kaili Kameoka – Web Administrator
“I enjoy working for Guide Dogs of Hawaii because they provide the services that I wish that I had growing up as a child who is visually impaired. It’s rewarding to see the blind in all stages of life becoming active members of the community.”
Aza Torres – Project Manager
“I grew up around the Blind, so it’s natural to focus on that with my career. I enjoy creating opportunities for our clients to experience everything life has to offer. Working with the Blind reminds me that although life throws us many challenges and obstacles, we can always control how we perceive and overcome them.”
Primo Mateo – Program Support Specialist
“After proudly serving in the Army for 8 years, I wanted to do something that would make me just as proud. It is very rewarding to see clients make their way through life and I am privileged to be a small part of it.”
Tehani Lopes – Client Support Specialist
“I enjoy the meaningful work we do. We get to connect with some incredible individuals and make lots of great memories along the way.”
Ezra White – Client Solutions Representative
The gratitude I’ve seen atop all of our clients faces over the years warms my heart and makes me proud to be a part of such a wonderful organization like Guide Dogs of Hawaii. If I am able to play a small role in helping someone achieve both the independents and freedom they desire, I’ve done my job. Luckily for me, working for Guide Dogs of Hawaii gives me just that.
Jeremiah Avilla – Program Assistant
I’ve always been fond of GDH because they’ve treated me very well as a client, so being able to help other people who are visually impaired in the same way I received help is a good feeling. I’m happy to be apart of the service GDH provides this community.
Our biggest goal at GDH is to ensure that our clients get to enjoy the world as much as everyone else, so our volunteers help us do that. Volunteers are invited to help with such activities as joining karaoke, judging a cooking contest, going shopping, to the movies, the water park, or swimming with dolphins.
We often hear from volunteers that they were hesitant at first because of their inexperience with blind and visually impaired people and didn’t want to do something wrong. We provide a simple training and very quickly, our new volunteers say that it was way easier than they expected. All volunteers really need to do is to want to help.
register to join our volunteer team!
Words from Our Volunteers
“I like coming in and volunteering at GDH because it makes me feel like I have a purpose in life. Even if the task may be meager, or simple. When I help do the small things, it gives the staff more time to get to the important stuff. I also enjoy the social interaction, especially after all that time in lock down. I feel like we were put on this planet to help one another. That’s what life is about. I really enjoy helping when I can, and meeting other people. It’s heart warming to be surrounded by good people that are working towards a common goal.”Hoku Burrows – Volunteer
“I’ve participated in camp get ahead multiple times. I can say that they’ve always organized everything very well, and that their activities are always engaging. Every activity you’re either building social skills, learning something new, or breaking out of your comfort zone. Everyone always has a good time, and it gives the youth a chance to build friendships with people in similar situations as themselves in a safe environment. They also learn practical skills that they might be hesitant on learning by themselves, such as cooking, swimming, walking with their cane, self advocation, and more.”Jeremiah Avilla – Volunteer