Leading The Way

Jerry Brocklehurst, head of Kaua‘i Leadership, with program director Sherri Patrick (back right) and (front, from left) director of operations Lana Spencer and bookkeeper Janece Yatsko. Amanda C. Gregg photo

Leadership Kaua’i and Kaua’i Community Radio both benefit from Jerry Brocklehurst’s years in management in Silicon Valley, and in music

It may have been accidental that Leadership Kaua’i executive director Jerry Brocklehurst found himself in the role he’s in today, but it also was kismet.

It was a step backward that led the former Silicon Valley sales and marketing bigwig to the path he finds himself on today, but it was a move he had been making steps toward since he was a child, albeit indirectly.

“At the age of 7, I began my musical interest by learning of all things how to play the accordion,” he says. Brocklehurst, who graduated with an engineering degree from Purdue University with honors, says he chose the field for creative reasons: He wanted to understand music synthesizers and how to program them.

“In high school and college I played keyboards in various rock bands, and when I graduated college I went to Silicon Valley with the intention of working in ‘high tech’ for a couple of years, in order to make some money to buy new keyboards,” he says.

Jerry Brocklehurst brings a musician’s sense of fun to all his endeavors. Amanda C. Gregg photos

Twenty-five years later he woke up, went into work and gave his two months’ notice so he could focus on music again.

Landing on the Garden Isle in 2004, Brocklehurst turned his passion into what is now a staple on-island for local musicians, the Kaua’i Music Festival, which over the past eight years has gained momentum and international attention.

Parlaying those talents further, Brocklehurst went on to become general manager of the nonprofit Kaua’i Community Radio in 2008, where he worked to increase its outreach, taking it from having an enclave of predominantly North Shore to Central Kaua’i listeners to a broader swath that includes the West side. Using his technological prowess, Brocklehurst established remote broadcast capability at Ke Kula Ni’ihau O Kekaha and Storybook Theater in Hanapepe. He also upped the ante for an island with few news sources and launched a series of “Be Heard!” town hall-style meetings around Kaua’i that drew in the mayor, the Office of Economic Development and, of course, residents.

Jerry Brocklehurst

So it came as no surprise to his Leadership Kaua’i team that he’d be particularly adept at helping take the small nonprofit, an already high-brow, well-branded and culturally salient entity, into the future. An obligation to preserve and perpetuate Hawaiian culture its leadership mission, Brocklehurst says Leadership Kaua’i focuses on five principles: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Enable Others to Act, Encourage the Heart and Challenge the Process. According to program director Sherri Patrick, Brocklehurst incorporates all of the above.

“Jerry exemplifies best enabling our staff and board members to take ownership for our organization’s success,” she says. Patrick, a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and former Hawaiian studies major at UH-Hilo, has a deep understanding of Hawaiian language and culture, and helps keep adult and youth students of Leadership Kaua’i’s current class actively engaged in the community.

A cohesive idea like the mission of Leadership Kaua’i, which develops qualified, committed leaders to serve the community collaboratively, is something Brocklehurst has taken in stride. A typical week for him includes plenty of relationship-building, public relations and good will.

With wife Katherine and sons Derek and Tyler. Photo courtest Jerry Brocklehurst

“I meet with lots of people and organizations throughout Kaua’i looking for opportunities,” he says.

Whether that means meeting with Department of Education members, Kaua’i Community College faculty, county and state officials or potential private and business donors, Brocklehurst hits the pavement when it comes to researching resources and collaborates for input on the nonprofit’s future.

Though working to realize a shared vision is no easy task, especially in a unique host culture like Kaua’i, it’s something in which Brocklehurst became skilled during his time directing departments for the global market in China, Japan, Singapore and Israel, to name a few.

It’s that experience that helped him learn to toe a line diplomatically and respectfully when communicating with non-American consumers.

“The big upside from my Silicon Valley and executive career is that I developed a real appreciation for helping others and for pulling together large teams of people to get things done, and an understanding of the business world,” he says.

The current Leadership Kaua‘i class breaks for lunch during a recent ‘program day’. Amanda C. Gregg photo

As for what Leadership Kaua’i’s future has in store, Brocklehurst says he expects the adult class of 20 to grow somewhat in size though not too much because small classes ensure bonding and a high level of trust with everyone in the class. Though the youth class sizes also are small, Brocklehurst is working to make the principles of the program more readily available to youths across the island. He plans to work with local schools to help build leadership practices directly into the daily curriculum.

“That is, in a way that the principles of good leadership are built into each class, rather than having ‘leadership’ as a separate class,” he says, “ultimately we hope to establish a relationship with all the schools so that we can positively affect thousands of students for years to come.”

Of course, Brocklehurst is quick to add none of this shared vision would be possible without his team, which in addition to Patrick includes Lana Spencer, the program’s director of operations, and Janece Yatsko, a part-time bookkeeper.

Though he certainly is busy, Brocklehurst does find time to spend with his wife Katherine,and sons Derek and Tyler. He also is still dedicated to his passion of all passions, music, and doubles as Kaua’i Music Festival president.

With photos of past Leadership classes. Amanda C. Gregg photo

“During non-Leadership Kaua’i work days, I spend time on either working on the logistics of organizing the next year’s festival or recording and mixing music for friends and local musicians, or simply sitting at the piano and playing or composing my own music,” he says. “I also record local musicians and help them produce CDs.”

Indeed. In fact, he was nominated for a Na Hoku Hanohano award in 2009 as co-producer with Titus Kinimaka for his CD, titled Full Circle.

“My lifelong path has taken me from artist/musician to engineer to businessman,” he says. “Now, being involved in the local community, I feel I can make good use of all three of those areas.”