State Comptroller and MPA Online Alum Works to Restore Hawaii after West Maui Fires
“The people of West Maui, of Lahaina, have so much aloha in them and have lost everything. And now it’s our turn to share that aloha back,” says Keith Regan, state comptroller of Hawaii and USC alumnus.
In August 2023, Hawaii was struck by devastating wildfires, particularly impacting West Maui and its historic town, Lahaina. The official death toll stands at 115, with many missing, and thousands losing their homes. Keith Regan, a USC Price MPA Online alumnus and Hawaii’s state comptroller, expressed his deep sorrow for the destruction.
“To think of the tragic series of events that has occurred, it saddens me. It’s such a beautiful place, and there’s a lot of culture [and] history that is gone forever. I have friends and families that have lost their homes,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time for that community to get back on their feet again, and it’s never going to be the same.”
Regan, a former Maui resident, highlighted the profound loss of cultural and historical landmarks. He emphasized the long road to recovery for the Maui community.
Despite the tragedy, Regan praised the unity of Hawaii’s people. They rallied to support Maui fire victims by donating essentials, offering shelter, conducting search and rescue operations, and providing mental health assistance.
As the state comptroller, Regan plays a crucial role in disaster response efforts. He credits his USC MPA degree in equipping him with essential public policy and management skills.
“What inspired me to pursue my master’s degree from USC in public administration was really to open my mind and to better understand what is needed in order to better serve the public. My career has really always been about public service. I wanted to gain additional knowledge that would help me do my job better, to hone my skills, and USC really helped me with that,” Regan said.
Currently, he manages logistics and warehousing for emergency supplies, ensuring they reach those in need. He also assists volunteer services in West Maui working to restore the region. Regan stressed the need for ongoing support, as disasters often fade from the media, leaving affected communities struggling.
“The people of Hawaii, of West Maui, who have been impacted by this tragedy are no different than your neighbor. This could have happened anywhere in the country. They need help and support not just from people in that local community or even the state, but also from those across the country,” he said. “The people of West Maui, of Lahaina, have so much aloha in them and have lost everything. And now it’s our turn to share that aloha back.”
Read the full USC Online story.