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State of Hawaiʻi has new disaster, emergency leadership

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Luke Meyers, State Disaster Management Advisor

The State of Hawaiʻi has new leadership for disasters and emergencies. Luke Meyers will join the Office of Gov. Josh Green as State Disaster Management Advisor and retired Col. James D.S. Barros was named as the new Administrator for the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA).  

The State Disaster Management Advisor is the state’s lead coordination point for long-term rebuilding and resiliency efforts following a large or complex disaster.

Meyers was Executive Officer for HI-EMA from 2018 to 2020 and served as Administrator for the past three years.

“We are excited to have Luke join our team and to continue to serve Hawai‘i as the State Disaster Management Advisor,” Gov. Green said in a news release. “He brings immense experience to this new position. When we consider what is occurring around the world within weather systems and changes to our climate, the timing could not be better.” 


Meyers began his role as HI-EMA Administrator in March 2020, in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also focused on setting and meeting high emergency management standards.

He led HI-EMA through an international accreditation assessment by Emergency Management Accreditation Program; established a new job classification for emergency management personnel; and aligned all recovery and mitigation efforts for all open federal disaster declarations under a new Resiliency Branch to manage hundreds of millions of dollars in federal assistance.

“The challenges of COVID-19, the increasing natural hazards that we all face as the climate warms, and the need for baseline standards show the vital importance of building a more resilient Hawai‘i against all hazards,” Meyers said.


State Adjutant General and Director of HI-EMA, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, has named Barros as the new Administrator for HI-EMA.

Barros previously was the Senior Exercise Planner with the 25th Infantry Division for Booz Allen Hamilton. 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 after a 32-year career, 22 in active service.

“I’ve worked with Col. (Ret.) James Barros for decades and know that his exceptional leadership and experience will continue to improve HI-EMA’s readiness,” Maj. Gen. Hara said.


Barros was the Chief of Staff for the Hawai‘i National Guard’s Joint Task Force, a force that was more than 1,300 strong, established to support the state’s response to COVID-19.

“I am honored to be the newest member of the HI-EMA team and the privilege to serve as the Administrator,” Barros said. “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.”

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