About Us


OLA imageOn July 10, 2006, at the Susannah Wesley Community Center in Kalihi, Governor Linda Lingle signed into law a key bill designed to improve state and state funded services to immigrants with limited English proficiency. Act 290, Session Laws of Hawaii 2006 – Relating to Language Access, requires the state, as well as state-funded programs, to develop plans to provide interpretation services and translated documents to those immigrants and residents that have limited ability to read or speak English. The Act also established the Office of Language Access within the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

“Act 290 represents the state’s commitment to ensuring that no one individual living in the State of Hawaii is denied their right to the services we provide, based upon their inability to speak or read English,” said Governor Linda Lingle. “Those using state services are the usually most vulnerable and the most in need of assistance in order to survive. Language should not be a barrier to such things as housing, food, job training, or medical coverage.”

According to the 2000 U.S. Census survey, 26.6 percent of persons in Hawaii speak a language other than English. Nationally, only 17.9 percent of the population speaks a language other than English. Additionally, the 2000 Census reports that the majority of persons immigrating to Hawaii come from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Of the population that (at home) speaks a language from Asia or from the Pacific Islands, 20.2 percent do not speak English well or at all.

The Team

Serafin “Jun” ColmenaresJun Photo
Executive Director
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Rebecca “Becky” Gardnerbecky photo
OLA Legal Analyst
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Research Analyst 

Research Analyst 

OLA Staff Gail Mc 11-18-2009 10-54-026Gail P. McGarvey
OLA Secretary
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Language Access Advisory Council

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Dominic Inocelda
Chair, Inter-Agency Council on Immigrants/Refugees

Gerald Ohta
Vice Chair, Affirmative Action Officer, Hawai`i State Department of Health

Serafin P. Colmenares, Jr.
Executive Director, Office of Language Access, Hawai`i State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Ex Officio

William D. Hoshijo
Executive Director, Hawai`i Civil Rights Commission, Ex Officio

Francine Wai
Executive Director, Disability and Communication Access Board, Ex Officio

Lito Asuncion
Planner, Kauai Agency of Elderly Affairs, Member-At-Large

Melbay Bantay
Program Director of Immigration & Refugee Services, Catholic Charities Hawai`i

Rebeca Zamora
Hawai`i Interpreter Action Network

Jennifer Li Dotson
CEO, Network Enterprises, Inc., President, Junior League of Honolulu

Mindy Emmons
President, Hawai`i Interpreter Action Network, County of Kauai

Patricia J. Harpstrite
County of Honolulu

Margarita “Day Day” Hopkins
County of Hawai`i

Dr. Ruth Mabanglo
Institute of Filipino and Philippine Literature Program, University of Hawai`i

Terrina Wong
Deputy Director, Pacific Gateway Center

Mary Santa Maria
Maui District Health Office, Hawai`i State Department of Health,  County of Maui

Hawaiian Language Advocacy Organization

Limited English Proficient (LEP) Community Representative