After an extensive national search, the Haas Institute is pleased to announce that Puanani Forbes will be joining the Institute as its new Chief of Staff this month.

Puanani comes to the Institute with a highly diverse background in increasingly demanding senior positions over the last 20 years. After receiving a BA in Sociology from Pitzer College and a Masters from Brandeis University in Sustainable International Development, Puanani began her career as a labor organizer for Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 11 (now UNITE HERE) in Los Angeles. She eventually moved into international development work, serving as a program manager with non-governmental organizations World Food Programme and Save the Children

In the newly created position of Chief of Staff at the Haas Institute, Puanani will take on the critical role of expanding the Institute’s infrastructure. 

Most recently, Puanani served as the Director of Business Development at San Francisco-based Equal Access International, a non-profit that organizes social change through media and communications, where she led multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns and oversaw exponential growth of the organization during her nine years there.

In the newly created position of Chief of Staff at the Haas Institute, Puanani will take on the critical role of expanding the Institute’s infrastructure. In this role, she will be overseeing and developing budgets as well as working alongside senior leadership to facilitate strategic initiatives that will help us grow.

 “Puanani’s experience deeply complements the vision of the Institute and her organizational leadership and experience will add much value to our work,” said john a. powell, Director of the Institute.

Beyond bringing her extensive skill set to strengthening the operational capacity of the Institute, Puanani also will work closely on staff and organizational development, for which she has a deep passion. She said, “throughout out my career, I've been drawn to roles that support others to achieve success in their work, whether it's working with local non-governmental organizations to better measure their success or supporting country directors in their many responsibilities managing program work in the field. The hidden side of the work is critical in a different way, and doing it well ensures success of any operation. This type of collaboration is what fuels me.”

 “Puanani’s experience deeply complements the vision of the Institute and her organizational leadership and experience will add much value to our work,” said john a. powell, Director of the Institute.

Puanani’s work has taken her around the globe, including Afghanistan, the West Bank, Nepal, Niger, Angola, Mexico, Yemen, and Cambodia, among other places, but Oakland is where Puanani calls home. Such travels have been important to not only her work, but also her perspective on a healthy, thriving world. “I believe that genuine exposure and engagement with people who are different from you, who have distinct life experiences from your own, is critical to bringing about more inclusive societies,” Puanani reflected.