New finance director, deputy director for County of Kauaʻi sworn in : Kauai Now

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From left to right: Mayor Derek Kawakami, Director of Finance Michelle Lizama, Deputy Director of Finance Chelsie Sakai, and Managing Director Reiko Matsuyama. (Photo courtesy: County of Kauaʻi, Office of the Mayor)

Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami has appointed Michelle L. Lizama as the County of Kaua‘i’s director of finance and Chelsie A. Sakai as the deputy director of finance. Lizama and Sakai were both sworn into office on Wednesday.

“We are grateful to both Michelle and Chelsie for their continued commitment to serving our community in these key positions,” Kawakami said. “Their extensive experience in county government will be instrumental as we remain steadfast in moving our priorities forward, while building upon the foundation our administration has established over the past five years.”

Lizama has served as the County of Kaua‘i’s deputy finance director since December 2018, while also continuing her role as the county’s tax collection supervisor since 2004. She has 24 years of experience in the county’s Department of Finance, with a total of 28 years of service to the County of Kaua‘i.

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Born and raised on Kaua‘i, Lizama holds a degree in accounting from the University of Hawai‘i’s Kaua‘i Community College. She has also served Kaua‘i’s community in numerous capacities such as through the Kamehameha Schools Association of Kaua‘i where she served as treasurer and a board member, the tithe accountant for St. Catherine’s Church, and is an alumni of the Leadership Kaua‘i program.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to serve as the new director of finance, and I thank Mayor Kawakami for his confidence in me to fill this role,” Lizama said. “I look forward to working with our Mayor and his administration, our Department of Finance and the entire County of Kaua‘i team, along with the Kaua‘i County Council, in this new capacity. I’d like to also thank my family for their tremendous support, for I could not succeed without their love and encouragement.”

Sakai joined the County of Kaua‘i in December 2007. Throughout her 16-year tenure with the county, she has served in numerous roles in accounting, grant coordination, and emergency management. She most recently served as the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency’s emergency management senior staff officer from 2018 to 2022.

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Prior to her appointment as deputy finance director, she served as the budget and grant analyst II for the county’s Department of Finance since December 2022. Born and raised on Kaua‘i, Sakai holds a Bachelorʻs degree in Business Administration and in Economics from the University of Oregon.

“Mahalo to Mayor Kawakami, Michelle, our staff and ‘ohana for this incredible opportunity to serve the people of Kaua‘i,” said Sakai. “I look forward to working with our finance team and our community as we continue to improve operations and better our customer service for all.”

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