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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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 law firms Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb.
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.
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.
To the Hawaii Legislature:
Hawaii families face skyrocketing healthcare costs and a shortage of doctors. Exempting medical services from Hawaii’s general excise tax would result in millions of dollars in savings for residents and help bring doctors back.