U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa is a proven, experienced leader who gets things done and delivers for Hawaii.
Despite her position as a Democrat in a Republican controlled House, since joining the Congress in 2011 Colleen has helped steer more than $2 billion to Hawaii to help create jobs, improve our schools, preserve the environment, build infrastructure, support our military, expand care for Veterans and protect Social Security and Medicare.
Hanabusa brings an aggressive, bipartisan approach to delivering federal resources and finding solutions to meet the unique needs of Hawaii’s diverse communities.
Colleen was born in Honolulu and raised in Waianae, where her parents, Isao and June, ran a gas station.
A yonsei, fourth generation American of Japanese Ancestry, Colleen’s maternal great-grandparents emigrated from Japan to Hawaii to work on the sugar plantations. Her grandparents were born on the Waianae Plantation where her Grandpa Muroda worked as a carpenter, building and maintaining the water flumes. Colleens’ paternal great grandparents sold tofu to the workers and her Grandpa Hanabusa also fished and sold his catch on the plantation.
Following Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, both of her grandfathers were sent to internment camps; Grandpa Muroda went to Honouliuli and Grandpa Hanabusa to a camp on the Mainland. They were targeted by the United States for their work as co-founders of the Waianae Hongwanji Mission.
Listening to her grandpas’ experiences during World War II, Colleen was inspired at an early age to end discrimination and fight for equality.
Growing up behind her parent’s gas station, Colleen learned the value of hard work and how to serve the community with respect and Aloha.
Her maternal grandmother helped raise her while her parents worked and Colleen developed a keen sensitivity and understanding of the needs of Hawaii’s hardworking families and vowed to do all she can to support them.
She graduated from St. Andrew’s Priory in 1969 and attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, earning Bachelor’s degrees in economics and sociology and a Master of Arts in sociology. She received her law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law in 1977.
Before entering public service in 1998, Colleen spent nearly three decades as an attorney, specializing in labor law, environmental preservation and protection, and representing communities who needed a champion to defend against the encroachment of private interests.
In 1998, Colleen was elected to represent the 21st District in the Hawaii State Senate. Her legal experience, strategic thinking, and collaborative approach quickly earned the trust of her colleagues, who named Colleen to numerous leadership positions.
She served as Vice-President of the State Senate, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Chair of the Hawaiian Affairs Committee, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Majority Leader. In 2007, her colleagues elected Colleen to serve as President of the Hawaii State Senate, the first woman to serve as leader of either chamber of the Hawaii legislature.
In 2010 she was elected to represent Hawaii’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is currently serving her second consecutive term. Colleen is a member of the House Armed Services and Natural Resources Committees, and is ranking member of the Natural resources Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs.
A fearless and innovative legislator, Colleen fights hard to deliver for Hawaii.
She is committed and passionate about job creation, fighting for equality, protecting the environment, providing for our kupuna, supporting our men and women in uniform, creating a clean energy economy and preserving the culture and traditions that define our Hawaii.
Colleen and her husband, Honolulu businessman John Souza, live in Nuuanu with their beloved Border Collie, Little. She likes to cook to unwind, and is famous for hosting elaborate local style potlucks for friends and staffers from Hawaii at her Capitol Hill home.