It was a beautiful evening at a beautiful location on March 5, 2022, when nearly 300 friends and guests people gathered to celebrate the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s 20th anniversary of promoting individual liberty, economic freedom and accountable government.
Michael W. Perry, Hawaii’s most popular morning radio host, moderated the event, presented at the Ko’olau Ballrooms in Kaneohe, near the base of the Pali.
The featured speaker was economist Matt Kibbe, author of the best-selling book “Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff.” There also were remarks by Institute President Keli’i Akina, comedy from Da Braddahs, and music by Nalu Collective and Maunalaua.
Starting off the grand affair was Institute Chairman Robin Stueber, whose opening remarks you can view and listen to below. A transcript is provided.
3-5-22 Opening remarks of Robin Stueber, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii chairman, at the institute’s 20th anniversary gala.
Robin Stueber: Aloha and good evening.
Stueber: I am here to kick things off with a quick invocation, and then I’ll say a few words and introduce you to some of our directors who are here tonight.
If you wouldn’t mind, would you bow your heads or just take a moment of reflection as I pray:
Gracious God and loving Father, we ask that you be with us tonight as we gather with joy to mark and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. We thank you for each and everyone who is here, and for those who have worked hard to put this event together.
Father, you have blessed the Grassroot Institute with these supportive people who are aligned with us in upholding individual liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness, which are your divine gifts to all people.
We ask that you continue to bless the work of the Grassroot Institute well into the future as we e hana kākou — work together — for a better Hawaii.
We add to our prayer a plea for hope and peace for people around the world who, in this very hour, are involved in conflict and who are suffering.
Lord, let your presence be felt throughout our program tonight in the food that nourishes our bodies, in the music and in our conversations. Return us to our homes safely, and continue to inspire each one of us to cherish and defend freedom.
We ask for these blessings and give you thanks, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
This is such an amazing sight. I so wish our founder, Dick Rowland, were here tonight to see what I’m seeing right now.
Before I introduce to you the directors who are here, I thought I’d just share just a short reflection that I’ve had recently.
You know, I was just 27 years old when I met Dick Rowland. I was taking a few graduate courses at HPU [Hawaii Pacific University] while working part time at the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Agency, where he was an agent. I liked him, he was a fun guy, and, you know, I eventually moved on. I started working, I got married, and I had a child, and I was going through life.
But Dick always kept in touch with me, and he told me about this public policy think tank that he was starting. It kind of went over my head, but he always included me and invited me to the Grassroot Institute’s events, so I was there from Day One. I didn’t really understand a lot of what he was doing, and I was intimidated by a lot of it, but I was curious, and so I took him up on coming to events, and learning about public policy and what was happening in Hawaii. And that was really my education.
So only recently did I really realize that he is and was the most important mentor in my adult life. I have experienced the most growth ever in my life just in the last, maybe eight years as a board member of the Grassroot Institute, and then the chairman of the board. And I’m so humbled by that because I’m not an academic, I don’t come from the legal profession, I’ve never held any significant office in any known company locally or outside of Hawaii. But Dick Rowland was all about the individual. I think I’m a testament to that because now I am …
… Absolutely. Now, I have the privilege of working with amazing board members, and Keliʻi and our amazing staff. It has developed me as a leader, as an individual, as a citizen, and I now truly understand why the principles of the Declaration of Independence [are] so important for us to maintain and perpetuate. This is the very copy that Dick gave me when I was only in my 20s [holds up a small booklet featuring both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution].
So, my message really to you is that we can all be mentors to someone, especially those who are coming after us, the young people. These principles need to be perpetuated … not [only] through traditional academic and all of the channels that our young people might be exposed to this. But it has to be through us, because we can communicate it in ways that they truly need to hear to connect it to real life.
So that is my message, and I’m thrilled to introduce you to our directors. We have two directors who couldn’t be here tonight, unfortunately. They send their aloha. They really wish they could be here tonight. That would be Bill Hastings, who lives on the Big Island and Fred Noa. He wasn’t able to be here tonight too.
So we do have several directors here, and I’d love to introduce you to them.
Mr. Eddy Kemp is here with us tonight. [applause] Aloha, Eddy.
Mr. Mark Monoscalco is here with us. [applause]
And Mr. Jonathan Durrett is here with us tonight too. Where are you? [applause]
And, of course, we have one more director, who is last but absolutely not least. He is our president, he is our CEO, and I’m going to turn the podium over to him now. … And that would be, William Keli’i Akina.