Former journalist, communications executive Ann Botticelli is nominated for Honolulu Police Commission

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Jun. 12—Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi's nominee to fill the seventh and final vacancy on the Honolulu Police Commission is a former journalist and airline, education, public relations and nonprofit executive with a long history of community service and social justice advocacy.

Ann Botticelli of Kailua is a Punahou School and Michigan State University graduate who spent 22 years as a print and television reporter before embarking on a successful corporate career that has included tenures on the executive leadership teams of Communications Pacific, Kamehameha Schools and Hawaiian Airlines.

In addition to her corporate work, Botticelli serves on the boards of Teach for America Hawaii, Bishop Museum and the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and spent two years on the board of the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, a social justice advocacy group. She also once served as vice president of communications for Child &Family Service, the 122-year-old nonprofit based in Ewa Beach.

"Ann is a person of substance, and we are thrilled and grateful for her decision to accept this very important challenge for our community, " Blangiardi told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Botticelli is Blangiardi's third nominee to serve on the Police Commission at a time when commissioners are searching for the 12th police chief while navigating a passionate public debate on the future of policing, use of force and the public disclosure of information from taxpayer-funded law enforcement agencies.

She did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.

Botticelli retired as Hawaiian Airlines' senior vice president for corporate com ­munications and public affairs in 2020 after almost nine years on the senior executive team at the state's largest carrier. She oversaw external and internal communications and government and community relations for the company's roughly 7, 500 employees.

After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Michigan State, Botticelli spent more than two decades covering government, business and consumer affairs for KHON-TV, The Honolulu Advertiser and KITV-4 before crossing over into public relations.

For five years Botticelli also founded and operated the Ho 'omalamalama Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing educational tools like applications and digital video programs. Her foundation helped develop the Malama Honua My Voyage, to help students follow the global travels of the Hokule 'a and Hikianalia.

"Ann's diverse experience as a communicator and her knowledge of business and our local community are well suited to our executive team, " said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's former president and CEO, when the company hired Botticelli in 2011.

She is one of four children born to Dr. Max and Alice Miyoko Watanabe Botticelli, who was working as a nurse when the couple met at The Queen's Medical Center in 1956.

The late Dr. Botticelli was chief executive officer of University Health Alliance and a professor at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine who spent eight years as director of the Queen Emma Clinic.

Dee Jay Mailer, former CEO of Kamehameha Schools, lauded Ann Botticelli's strategic communications skills and work in the community in a June 2015 endorsement posted to Botticelli's LinkedIn profile.

"She is hugely strategic and can cut to the chase quickly to take advantage of opportunity. A huge asset to any company, " Mailer wrote.

Blangiardi, speaking to media Friday about Honolulu's move to the Tier 4 COVID-19 operational stance, said when he first considered filling the vacancy, he was set on a female former law enforcement official.

His administration approached six potential candidates, all of whom elected to pass on the opportunity.

The first nominee was a retired Honolulu Police Department captain now working in private security who withdrew his nomination over alleged issues with his disciplinary record at HPD and questions about his impartiality on the commission with his partner still working as an HPD lieutenant. Blangiardi then went with Larry Ignas, a former East Chicago, Ind., police officer who lived in Hawaii for 34 years and raised six children here.

During a City Council meeting, Ignas responded to a question about whether racism exists in Hawaii by denying it does. He withdrew his name from consideration after Council members and state lawmakers called for him to step aside.

Blangiardi believes racism does exist in Hawaii, and is committed to breaking down those barriers and forging community partnerships that support equality.

"I now have my candidate I've submitted, " said Blangiardi, speaking Friday. "I think when you learn who this is, people will be very surprised and supportive."

After leaving Hawaiian Airlines, Botticelli endorsed Blangiardi for mayor and served on his transition team following his general election victory.

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