Maui News

New Administrator Appointed to Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency

March 16, 2018, 12:46 PM HST
* Updated March 16, 12:50 PM
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Retired US Navy Captain Thomas Travis has been appointed to serve as Administrator of the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency.

PC: courtesy HI-EMA 3.16.18

In his first official day in the position Administrator Travis met-up with media saying, “I really have always loved Hawaiʻi and it’s given a lot to me.  I hope I’ll be able to give back.”

When asked about last month’s false missile alert, Administrator Travis said, “I have read the reports, but have done no investigation myself, so I’m going to not comment further on that.  I think the investigations were thorough.  I think they documented what was wrong, and I’m going to leave it at that.”

He said that in light of what happened, “It’s about the relationship with the community.  It’s very important that that relationship be good. Because of the mistake that was made, there’s a lot of attention on it.  It could be a bad thing or it could be a good thing.  And it’s an opportunity to reach out and strengthen those relationships.”

A graduate of the US Naval Academy, Travis most recently resided in Tucson, Arizona, but has previous ties to Hawaiʻi, having lived in Kapoho on the Island of Hawaiʻi from 2011 to 2016.  He also served on various submarines at Pearl Harbor from 1977 to 1991.


He replaces Brigadier General Moses Kaoiwi Jr. who served as Interim Administrator following the resignation of Vern Miyagi from the post in January.  Authorities say Brig. Gen Kaoiwi will remain in his role of Interim Administrator to ensure a smooth transition.


“I am pleased and honored to accept the position of Administrator of the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency,” Travis said in an announcement, “and grateful to Maj. Gen. Logan and Governor Ige for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to guiding the agency in building our capacity to respond to disasters and enhancing public trust. I also want to acknowledge the hard work of those who came before me in fostering an agency with great people and strong potential.”

At today’s press event, Travis named four priorities as areas of focus in his new capacity:

  1. Get to know the people in HI-EMA and then work with them to solve any problems to assure the department is doing things right on a day-to-day basis;
  2. HI-EMA is a coordinating agency and it has relationships with the federal state and county governments, as well as other agencies and departments.  It’s important for all to understand what is expected of each other.
  3. HI-EMA needs a clear vision of where it’s going in the future and what needs to be done to improve. That’s based on doing things right daily and understanding relationships.
  4. The community’s response to an unfortunate event determines how well they do as much as what HI-EMA does.  There’s a need to have public education, to reach out and know the people in the community, and especially be ready to partner with them so that all are working together “when the hard times come.”

Maj. Gen. Logan praised Travis’s qualifications to lead he agency in a period of rebuilding. “Mr. Travis has proven himself a strategic thinker and strong leader,” Logan said. “Throughout his career, both military and civilian, he has brought to bear a clear vision of the path to effective performance and quality results. I trust him to deliver the same results for HI-EMA and our state.”


Travis is a former national security analyst and the contributing author and senior editor of foundational studies on Operation Iraqi Freedom and the US Government response to Hurricane Katrina. After retiring from the U.S. Navy, Travis worked as an Assistant Director at the Joint Advanced Warfighting Program, Institute for Defense Analyses and most recently as the Studies Director, Joint Center for Operational Analysis, US Joint Staff.

Travis was selected from a pool of ten candidates to head the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency, one of six divisions and offices within the State of Hawaiʻi, Department of Defense.

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