Major General Kenneth Hara, Director
On December 6, 2019, Major General Kenneth S. Hara assumed his duties as Adjutant General for the State of Hawai‘i, Department of Defense and the Director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
He serves in the Governor’s cabinet and as executive head of the state Department of Defense. The department includes the Hawai‘i Army National Guard, Hawai‘i Air National Guard, Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency, Office of Homeland Security, Office of Veterans Services, and the Youth Challenge Academy. He was appointed as the state’s overall COVID-19 incident commander from March 2020 to March 2022.
Maj. Gen. Hara has deployed three times: in 2005 to Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; in 2008, to Kuwait; and in 2012, to Kandahar, Afghanistan as the commander of the Operations Coordination Center – Regional Command South, Security Forces Assistance Advisory Team.
Maj. Gen. Hara also served on several state missions in support of local authorities. He played key roles in the response following Hurricane Iniki in 1992; as commander, Task Force KOA, after an earthquake on the island of Hawai‘i in 2006; and as the Dual Status Commander of Joint Task Force-50 in support of the Kilauea volcanic eruption and Hurricane Lane responses in 2018.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Services from Hawaii Pacific University and a Master of Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.
Maj. Gen. Hara’s awards and decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, Army Aviator Badge, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
Under Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, Chapter 127A-3, the duties of the Director of Emergency Management include:
- Coordinating agency activities with county emergency management agencies and other public and private organizations dealing with emergency management
- Maintaining liaison and cooperation with these agencies
- Performing emergency management functions within the state
- Supporting county emergency management agencies as required
- Coordinating all resource support to the counties
- Ensuring coordination of emergency management plans across the state and with state, Federal and other organizations
- Issuing alerts and warnings
- Coordinating emergency and disaster response and recovery activities
James DS. Barros, Administrator
Colonel (Retired) James DS. Barros assumed the post of Administrator for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) on February 1, 2023.
Barros returned to State service from Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked as its Senior Exercise Planner with the 25th Infantry Division. Prior to that, he was an emergency management staff officer with the City and County of Honolulu Department of Emergency Management.
Barros recently retired from the Hawai‘i Army National Guard (HIARNG) after a 32-year career, with 22 years in active service. Barros was the Chief of the Joint Staff for the Hawai‘i National Guard’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force. The force, more than 1,300 strong, was established to support the state’s preparation and response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
From 2017-2019, Barros served as the Hawaii National Guard Director for Joint Domestic Operations (DOMOPS). While the HING DOMOPS, Barros supported State operations in support of the emergency responses to Kaua‘i flooding, Hawai‘i island lava eruption, wildfires on Maui, and preparation for and response to Hurricanes Lane, Norman, and Olivia.
During his tenure in the HING Joint Staff, Barros expanded international engagements with HING state partners Philippines and Indonesia. He established the Combined Task Force (CTF) 501 which included Urban-Search and Rescue teams from the HING, Philippines and Indonesia. CTF 501 conducted joint confined-space training and high-angle rescues during summer rotations in Hawai‘i. In 2019, Barros worked with the cities of Makati and Pasig in developing and executing the Community Disaster Resilience Exchange (CDRE) in the Philippines.
“I am honored to be the newest member of the HI-EMA Team and for the privilege to serve as the Administrator,” Barros at the time of his appointment in January 2023. “I look forward to working closely with Governor Green and MG Hara as we strengthen the partnerships with our county teammates, volunteer organizations, and our communities. HI-EMA is a dynamic organization with diverse responsibilities to prepare and protect the people of Hawai‘i.”