An experienced champion for Hawai'i
A fourth-generation Japanese American and lifelong resident of Hawai'i, Colleen Hanabusa has been a dedicated public servant in her home state for almost two decades. Colleen’s great-grandparents immigrated to Hawai'i from Japan in the 1880s to work on a sugar plantation, and her grandparents helped raise Colleen as her hardworking parents ran the family-owned gas station business. Colleen’s grandfathers were interned during World War II because of their Japanese ancestry, and they instilled in her an early passion for civil rights. After building a successful law practice, Colleen won election to the state Senate, where she fought to increase educational and economic opportunities for working families in her community and across her state. She was elected president of the Senate in 2006, becoming the first woman to lead either chamber in the Hawai'i state legislature, as well as the first Asian American woman in the country to lead a legislative chamber. Colleen was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2010, and served two terms fighting tirelessly for women and families. She has served as chair of the board for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, and recently served as a lecturer and Daniel K. Inouye Visiting Scholar at the University of Hawai'i Mānoa, teaching a course on civil liberties in times of crisis. Colleen lives in Honolulu with her husband John.
A fierce advocate for Aloha State working families
Colleen has an outstanding record of working to strengthen Hawai'i’s economy. For more than 30 years, Colleen worked as an attorney in labor law, and when elected she will champion policies that give women and working families a fair shot. She is committed to expanding economic opportunity, ending gender discrimination in pay, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and helping Aloha State families get ahead. A longtime advocate for quality education, Colleen fights for every Hawai'i student. Colleen has served on the House Committee on Armed Services, and her leadership will be critical as the growing focus on the Asia-Pacific region puts Hawai'i at the forefront of our foreign policy concerns. She has also served as a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and is dedicated to protecting Hawai'i’s unique and fragile ecosystem. A steadfast pro-choice leader, Colleen will continue to protect women’s reproductive freedom and ensure that women will always have the final say in important decisions about their health and their bodies.
A pro-choice Democratic woman returning to Congress
Colleen ran to represent Hawai'i’s First Congressional District and to build on her service in Congress. In 2014, Colleen narrowly lost a primary for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by her mentor, Senator Daniel Inouye. After leaving Congress, Colleen continued to serve Hawai'i as chair of the board for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, working to improve Aloha State infrastructure and create economic opportunity for working families. When the late Rep. Mark Takai announced that he would not seek reelection in 2016, Colleen launched a strong campaign to return to Congress. She now again joins pro-choice champions Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in carrying on Hawai'i’s strong tradition of electing Democratic women of color. With the full support of the EMILY’s List community, Colleen was victorious and will return to Washington to continue her lifelong fight for Hawai'i women and working families.