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Grassroot Scholars

Grassroot Institute Scholars are recognized experts who advise the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii staff about various 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.

Colin Grabow
Policy analyst, Cato Institute

Colin Grabow is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies where his research focuses on domestic forms of trade protectionism such as the Jones Act and the U.S. sugar program. His writings have been published in a number of outlets, including USA Today, The Hill, National Review and The Wall Street Journal. Prior to joining the Cato Institute, he performed political and economic analysis for a Japan‐based trading and investment firm and published research and analysis for an international affairs consulting firm with a focus on U.S.-Asia relations. Grabow holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from James Madison University and a master’s degree in international trade and investment policy from George Washington University. He supervises the Cato Institute’s Jones Act Gazette, and in 2020 co-edited a book, “The Case Against the Jones Act.” 

Daniel J. 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
Founder and director, Thoreau Institute

Randal OToole is the founder and director of the Oregon-based Thoreau Institute, which specializes in finding ways to protect the environment without big government. OToole’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. He has also written books on housing and land use policy (“American Nightmare”) and transportation (“Gridlock” and “Romance of the Rails”). In 2019, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii published OToole’s analysis of Hawaii’s housing crisis, “Build up or build out? How to make housing more affordable.”

Gale Pooley, Ph.D.
Economist and co-author of “Superabundance”

Gale Pooley is the co-author of “Superabundance,” the story of population growth, innovation and human flourishing on an infinitely bountiful planet. He recently retired as a business and economics professor at Brigham Young University-Hawaii and now lives in St. George, Utah. He also taught economics at Utah Tech University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Boise State University, College of Idaho and Alfaisal University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute and a Senior Fellow with the Discovery Institute. He has published articles in Forbes, National Review, HumanProgress, The American Spectator, FEE, the Utah Bar Journal, the Appraisal Journal, Quillette, and RealClearMarkets.

Ken Schoolland
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. He is the author of the popular book “The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey,” which has been translated into more than 50 languages.

Ilya Shapiro, J.D.
Senior fellow director of constitutional studies, 
Manhattan Institute of Policy Research

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow and director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute of Policy Research, based in New York. Previously he was executive director and senior lecturer at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, and before that a vice president of the Cato Institute and director of Cato’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies. Shapiro is author of the 2020 book “Supreme Disorder: Judicial Nominations and the Politics of America’s Highest Court.” He also was the editor of 11 volumes of the Cato Supreme Court Review, from 2008 to 2018. He has contributed to academic, popular and professional publications, including The Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Newsweek. Shapiro also has testified many times before Congress and state legislatures, and has filed more than 500 amicus curiae “friend of the court” briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Robert Thomas, J.D.
Senior attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation

Robert H. Thomas is a senior attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a public interest legal foundation dedicated to defending private property rights and individual freedom. He specializes in property and land-use issues, appearing as counsel on behalf of landowners and others, including the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, for filings before state appellate courts, state supreme courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to joining the Pacific Legal Foundation, Thomas was in private legal practice for more than 30 years with Damon Key Leong Kupchack Hastert in Honolulu. He also 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. 

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.
Political science professor, University of Hawaii

Kate Xiao Zhou is a professor of comparative politics and political economy of China in the Department of Political Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She 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.  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.