About Grassroot

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is an independent, nonprofit research and educational institution devoted to promoting the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and limited and accountable government throughout the state of Hawaii and the Pacific Rim.  Through the publication of accurate and timely research and commentaries, as well as by organizing events, conferences, and seminars, the Institute seeks to educate and inform Hawaii’s policy-makers, news media and the public at large on key public policy issues. Founded in 2001, the Institute’s research and education efforts have helped provide the intellectual foundations for many public policy debates.
While Grassroot functions as a thought leader, it is just as committed to promoting action through practical change for the good of society.  In the spirit of “E Hana Kakou/ Let’s work together!”, the Institute strives to unite Hawaii’s people to work together for a better economy, government and society.  To maintain its role as an independent voice and watchdog, the Grassroot Institute refuses to accept funding from the local, state or federal governments.   As an I.R.S. 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, the Grassroot Institute is non-partisan and does not endorse political candidates or parties.
Grassroot Institute is proud to be a member of the State Policy Network, the nation’s leading network of state-based think tanks.


Grassroot Institute of Hawaii Board of Directors

Richard Rowland,
Chairman & Founder

Richard O. Rowland, a graduate of Texas A&M University (BS) and Columbia University (MA) came to Hawaii in 1971 as a key officer on the PACOM staff. Retiring as a Colonel in 1975, he was a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual for 26 years before co-founding Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

Mr. Rowland is a former life member of the MDRT, former President of the Hawaii Society of CLU, twice candidate for the U.S. Senate and once for the Honolulu City Council, a former member of the Small Business Hawaii Board of Directors, and the 1997 SBH Small Business Person of the Year.

Mr. Rowland is married to Marie with three grown children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Keli’i Akina, PH.D.

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.,  is a recognized scholar, educator, public policy spokesperson, and community leader in Hawaii.  Currently, he is President/CEO of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a public policy think tank dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, free markets and limited, accountable government.  An expert in East-West Philosophy and ethics, Dr. Akina has taught at universities in China and the United States and continues as an adjunct instructor at Hawaii Pacific University.  Dr. Akina is currently a candidate for Trustee at Large of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in the 2014 General Election run-off.

Eddy “Ed” Kemp

For more than 30 years, Ed Kemp has been President and CEO of E.N. Kemp & Associates, a firm providing various business and financial consulting services.  In recent years the firm has specialized in business appraisals, valuation consulting and litigation support.

Prior to founding E.N. Kemp & Associates, Ed held the position of Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for the Estate of James Campbell and before that was a Manager in the Tax Department of KPMG, Hawaii’s largest public accounting firm.

Ed came to Hawaii in 1965 after graduation from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  He moved to Kaneohe from Kailua in 1967 and has been active in various community and business organizations over the years.  He has been married for more than 50 years (to the same woman) and has three adult children and six grandchildren.

Gilbert Collins

In addition to being on the Board of Directors of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Gilbert Collins is currently Director of the Capital Research Center in Washington, DC and The Independent Institute in Oakland, CA. He lives in Hawaii and California.

Robin Tjioe

Born and raised on Oahu, Robin Tjioe is a graduate of Roosevelt High School and the University of Oregon.  Currently she is the account executive for Experian Information Solutions in Hawaii.  Robin has been involved with the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii since its founding and has supported the organization in administration, fundraising, and event planning.

Robin’s diverse background includes sales and consulting in the financial services, medical and technology industries. She is a past board member of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, the Pilot Foundation of Hawaii, and has been active in numerous community, charity and professional organizations.