Working for a better economy, better governance and a better society

Grassroot Scholars

Grassroot Institute Scholars are recognized experts who consult with and advise the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii staff on a number of different policy initiatives. They include academics, noted authors, business owners and more. Their qualifications vary depending on their areas of expertise, but all are recognized authorities in their chosen fields.

John Dunham
Managing partner, John Dunham & Associates

John Dunham is the managing partner of John Dunham & Associates, which specializes in the economics of how public policy issues affect products and services. He has conducted hundreds of studies on taxes and regulation, including the groundbreaking July 2020 report issued by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, “Quantifying the cost of the Jones Act to Hawaii.” Prior to starting his own firm, John was a senior economist for the New York City Mayor’s Office, the New York City Comptroller’s Office,the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Philip Morris. He received his M.A. in economics from the New School for Social Research and his MBA from Columbia University. He is a member of the American Economics Association.

Dan Mitchell
Founder, Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Dan Mitchell is founder of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity in Washington, D.C., and one of the nation’s leading experts on tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He’s worked as an economist for U.S. Senator Bob Packwood and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and was director of tax and budget policy as Citizens for a Sound Economy. He’s been published widely in newspapers and magazines and journals, is a frequent television guest, and has given speeches throughout the United States in more than 50 countries. Mitchell has a Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University, where he took classes from the late Nobel Prize-winning economist James Buchanan.

Randal O’Toole
Senior Fellow, Cato Institute

Randal O’Toole is a Cato Institute senior fellow specializing in urban growth, public land and transportation issues. O’Toole’s research on national forest management, culminating in his 1988 book “Reforming the Forest Service,” has had a major influence on U.S. Forest Service policy and on-the-ground management. His analysis of urban land-use and transportation issues, brought together in his book “The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths,” has influence decisions in cities across the country. In 2019, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii published O’Toole’s analysis of Hawaii’s housing crisis, “Build up or build out? How to make housing more affordable.”  

Gale Pooley, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Brigham Young University-Hawaii

Gale Pooley is an economist and associate professor of business management at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. He also has taught at Alfaisal University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Boise State University, and College of Idaho. 

As an economist in collaboration with Marian Tupy, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Pooley is known for defining time-prices and creating the Simon Abundance Index, a way to measure the relationship between population and resources. Pooley holds professional designations from the Appraisal Institute, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the CCIM Institute. He serves on the board of HumanPrograss.org, is a Fellow with the Discovery Institute, and has published articles in National Review, HumanProgress and RealClearMarkets.

Ken Schoolland, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Hawai’i Pacific University 

Ken Schoolland is an associate professor of economics and director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Hawaii Pacific University. Previously he was director of Chaminade University of Honolulu’s master of science degree program in Japanese business studies, and head of the business and economics program at Hawaii Loa College. Schoolland is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society and a director of Liberty International.

Ilya Shapiro, J.D.
Senior fellow, Cato Institute

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Before joining Cato, he was a special assistant/adviser to the Multi-National Force in Iraq on rule-of-law issues and practiced at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb.

Robert Thomas, J.D.
Managing attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation’s Hawaii Center

Robert H. Thomas is a director with the law firm Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert in Honolulu. He specializes in property and land-use issues, including eminent domain, inverse condemnation, regulatory takings, property rights, water rights and voting rights. He has tried cases and appeals in Hawaii, California and the federal courts, and appeared as counsel on behalf of landowners in Hawaii and nationwide for amici curiae (“friends of the court”) filings before state appellate courts, state supreme courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thomas is the inaugural Joseph T. Waldo Visiting Chair in Property Rights Law at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he teaches upper-division courses in eminent domain, property rights and property law. He recently completed a year as chair of the American Bar Association’s Section on State and Local Government Law, and was the long-time chair of the Section’s Eminent Domain Law Committee. He continues as editor in-chief of the Section’s scholarly legal journal on municipal law issues, The Urban Lawyer.

Thomas is a frequent speaker on land use and eminent domain issues in Hawaii and nationwide, and regularly publishes scholarly and practical articles in his area of practice. He also is managing attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Hawaii Center, a public interest legal foundation dedicated to defending private property rights and individual freedom.

Tom Yamachika
President, Tax Foundation of Hawaii

Tom Yamachika is president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, a private, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to informing the taxpaying public about the finances of our state and local governments in Hawaii. The foundation looks at how government raises the money it spends, be it taxes, user fees or through the use of debt. Most of the foundation’s attention is focused on state government, but it also keeps a watchful eye on Hawaii’s county governments, as they annually set real property tax rates in order to fund their respective budgets.

Kate Zhou, Ph.D.
Professor, University of Hawaii

Kate Xiao Zhou received her bachelor’s degree in English from Wuhan University, a master’s degree in sociology from Texas A&M University, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University. She is a professor of comparative politics and political economy of China in the Department of Political Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her research interests include the dynamics of transition from central planning to markets, Chinese economic development, Chinese business, globalization in East Asia, comparative studies of businesses and Asian entrepreneurship.