About Colleen

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa proudly represents Hawaii's 1st Congressional District.  She brings to Washington a passionate, hardworking and fearless approach to advocacy, honed by more than three decades spent fighting for the rights of her clients in the halls of justice and her constituents on the floor of the Hawaii State Legislature.  Congresswoman Hanabusa, a yonsei, fourth generation American of Japanese ancestry, whose grandparents were interned during World War II, has dedicated her life to service and is committed to providing for the people of Hawaii while preserving the unique values and traditions that define the Aloha spirit.

FAMILY

Congresswoman Hanabusa’s maternal great-grandparents were among the 200,000 Japanese who emigrated from Japan between 1885 and 1924 to work on the Hawai‘i sugar plantations. Her grandparents set the family roots in Waianae, on the Leeward Coast of Oahu, when they were born on and worked for the Waianae Plantation.  Her maternal grandfather worked as a carpenter on the plantation and built and maintained the water flumes which carried water through the sugarcane fields from Makaha and Waianae Valley to Lualualei.

Her paternal great-grandparents were well known around the plantation. They made a living by making and selling tofu to the workers. And her paternal grandfather, known as Sampan Joe, was a fisherman who sold his catch to the plantation store every day.  

Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, both of her grandfathers were placed in internment camps.  Grandpa Hanabusa was sent to the mainland and Grandpa Muroda went to Honouliuli on Oahu, because of their work as founders of the Waianae Hongwanji Mission. 

Congresswoman Hanabusa was raised by Grandma Muroda while her hardworking parents, Isao and June, ran their popular gas station in their hometown of Waianae. Her father worked for Gaspro, Inc. and served as a director for the successor entity, Lenakona, Inc. until the day he died.

EDUCATION

1969: Graduated from St. Andrew’s Priory

1973: Graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sociology

1975: Graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Master of Arts in Sociology.

1977: Earned her law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law.

PUBLIC SERVICE

In November 1998, Congresswoman Hanabusa was elected to serve the people of the Twenty-First District as their State Senator. She was victorious in her first ever run for public office and immediately people recognized her talents and desire to improve the lives of Hawaii's working families.

Her state legislative accomplishments include:

 2001-2002: Vice-President of the State Senate and Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means

2001: Co-Chair of the Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee concerning the Felix Consent Decree

2003-2004: Co-Chair of the Joint House-Senate Task Force on Ice and Drug Abatement

2003-2006: Chair of the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee and Majority Leader

2007 - Became President of the Senate, the first woman to lead either house in the Hawai‘i legislature.

Along with her legislative work, Congresswoman Hanabusa is also an attorney with more than three decades of experience.  She has championed the causes of labor, preserving and protecting the environment and stood up for communities she saw being bullied by private interest. 

Since 1993:  Recognized by Honolulu Magazine’s as “One of Hawai`i’s A+ Attorneys.”

2004: Received the prestigious AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the top rating any lawyer can achieve.  

2009: The American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity presented her with the Spirit of Excellence Award.

Congresswoman Hanabusa is married to Honolulu businessman John Souza.  They have a 9 year-old Border Collie named Little, who enjoys a farm fresh egg every morning for breakfast, specially prepared by John.