Christina Kemmer, executive vice president of Communications Pacific, was presented with the Hawaii Army Museum Society’s Ihe Award last month by Gen. David Bramlett (pictured). The award recognizes Kemmer’s groundbreaking endeavors as a community builder, particularly her volunteer work in creating dialogue between Army decision-makers and civilian organizations. Building bridges between the community and the Army earned Kemmer the honorary title of Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, a position she has held for the past eight years. Kemmer has the distinction of being the first woman to fill the position.
“The award recognizes someone who has committed with their heart, mind and spirit to recognize the necessity to bring the military and the community together,” says Kemmer. “In doing community building, we have to make sure we have a seat for everyone, and that includes the military. In my heart’s desire, with community building, the end result is peace - it’s peace building. It’s about making our lives better for and with each other.”
When Kemmer appeared on the cover of MidWeek in 1994, she was president of the Waikiki Improvement Association. From there she became director of the office of Waikiki Development under Mayor Jeremy Harris, managing relations among Waikiki employees, business owners, visitors and the Native Hawaiian community. Eleven years ago, Communications Pacific CEO Kitty Lagareta invited Kemmer on board and gave her the freedom to work some of her community-building magic. Her work pours over into the volunteer realm. “My relationships, my networks, my bridge-building has everything to do with communities,” says Kemmer. “I never really say, ‘Oh now I’ve got to go do volunteer work.’ I see it as all related.”
Kemmer has received numerous awards for her work. In reflecting on the Ihe award, Kemmer uses the metaphor of the ihe, or spear, to describe how she reconciles the issues coming at her from all angles: “You have to deal with issues at the tip of the spear, or you can turn the spear around and make it an instrument of peace like the o’o stick that’s used to dig, to plant, to be peaceful.”
In her personal life, Kemmer has been writing poetry, and she looks forward to publishing it. “The poems weave life experiences with spirituality, with intellectual and emotional and psychological imagery,” describes Kemmer, “but there’s always a very strong life’s purpose theme in them.”
Kemmer, who earned distinction as a long-distance paddler in the ‘80s, has recently taken up boxing.
“I absolutely love it,” says the 58-year-old. “I like to balance my life, and be physically fit and healthy so that I can take on the universe’s next assignment with great energy.”
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