Class of 1997
By Sarah Okubo
Joy Kobayashi works for Hawaii Advocates. After graduating from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a degree in journalism, she went to work at the State Legislature. She had never planned on becoming a lobbyist, but after working at the Legislature for a few years, she came to enjoy the legislative process and policy work. Lobbying allows her to take policy work into more select areas. Her experiences at the Legislature in capacities such as Office Manager and Judiciary Committee Clerk for Representative Eric Hamakawa and Senator Colleen Hanabusa helped prepared her for work as a lobbyist.
The working hours for a lobbyist are a far cry from a nine to five job. Joy is always on call and available to the members of the legislature or clients. It is especially tough during the months of January to May, the legislative session. Election years are also a busy time because she usually works on multiple campaigns. There is little time for Joy to get bored.
Currently, Joy lobbies for AlohaCare and the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii. For AlohaCare, a lower income medical insurance provider, she lobbies for the protection of their client base, providing coverage for the uninsured, creation of a better Hawaii health care environment, and the protection of the company’s status as a non-profit organization. For the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii, she lobbies for the protection of the 2006 smoke-free law, the support of “fire safe” cigarettes, and the banning of flavored cigarettes.
Joy finds interacting with people the best thing about being a lobbyist. She has to convince 76 members of the Legislature to pass legislation in favor of the people she is lobbying for, but at the same time she gets to see the opposing view and is constantly learning.
During high school, Joy was involved in the YMCA Youth Legislature program and attended the State Student Conference in her senior year. During her sophomore year, her social studies class was able to go Washington D.C. to compete in “We the People,” a competition about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These activities were structured and followed strict rules, similar to the legislative process. As a lobbyist, Joy finds that the arguing and disagreeing she did in high school occurs almost daily.
Reminiscing about Waiakea High School brings Joy good and bad memories. She enjoyed hanging out with friends, working “like dogs” to complete things for student government activities such as homecoming. She also enjoyed the relaxation and fun that came after the tasks were completed. Joy does not think of herself as a model student because she didn’t get along with everyone. However, she thinks that these past confrontations ultimately made her a stronger and better person.
Joy recommends that students should seize opportunities that come their way. She considers herself very lucky to be able to do work that she is really interested in and enjoys. Because lobbyists are hired by a variety of organizations, various interests, education and experiences help to prepare for the job.