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 are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds, and include academics, noted authors, business owners and more. Their qualifications vary depending on their areas of expertise, but all are recognized as authorities in their chosen fields.

Randal O’Toole
Senior fellow, Cato Institute

Randal O’Toole is a Cato Institute senior fellow working on 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 Forest Service policy and on-the-ground management. His analysis of urban land-use and transportation issues, brought together in his 2001 book, “The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths,” has influenced decisions in cities across the country.

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 the 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 president 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, Hawaii. 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, including the Court of Federal Claims. On behalf of landowners in Hawaii and nationwide, Thomas appears as counsel for amici curiae (“friends of the court”) before state appellate courts, state supreme courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. Thomas serves as the chair of the Condemnation Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on State & Local Government Law. He is the 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

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.