Updated 2:15 p.m., 2/9/2015

The Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, chaired by Roz Baker, spent Monday morning praising Catherine Awakuni Colón, Gov. David Ige’s appointee to head the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

The full Senate is expected to take up the nomination soon for final approval.

Awakuni Colón was the first of many gubernatorial appointees who will have to go before senators for confirmation.

Catherine Awakuni Colón

Catherine Awakuni Colón speaks before a Senate committee about her being appointed to head the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Screen shot/Olelo


While she sailed through the committee meeting, others may face a tougher process.

Environmental groups are fighting Ige’s appointment of Carleton Ching, a former Castle & Cooke lobbyist, to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Before receiving unanimous support from the Senate committe, Awakuni Colón said she is ready to continue serving the state.

“I’m excited for the chance to advance the good work already underway,” she said.

Awakuni Colón, a lawyer by trade, most recently served as DCCA’s cable administrator. She has also been the department’s executive director for its Division of Consumer Advocacy, chief legal counsel for the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. She also worked for Hawaiian Electric Co. as manager of corporate planning.

“This administration is committed to transforming the culture of government by embracing and accelerating change,” Ige said in his testimony Monday on the appointment. “I’m confident that Catherine Awakuni Colón will support our DCCA employees in this effort. Together, we can build a better home for our keiki, kupuna, and all the residents of Hawaii.”

Stephen Levins

Stephen Levins was named executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection on Monday.


Baker said she and her committee are delighted that Awakuni Colón has taken on this challenge and believe she is especially well positioned to lead the department. 

Update Awakuni Colón announced Monday afternoon that she has named Stephen Levins as executive director for the Office of Consumer Protection.

Levins has been working as deputy attorney general for the past three years, focusing on providing legal advice to state boards. He is also the lead attorney for all consumer protection, which involve multi-state consumer protection matters involving the Office of the Attorney General — including multi-state investigations of abuses involving financial institutions, according to the governor’s office.

“I have devoted my legal career to protecting Hawaii consumers from unfair or deceptive trade practices,” he said in a release.

The Office of Consumer Protection is the state’s primary agency responsible for reviewing, investigating and prosecuting allegations of unfair or deceptive trade practices in consumer transactions, the release says.

“The office promotes fair and honest business practices by investigating alleged violations of consumer protection laws, by taking legal action to stop unfair or deceptive practices in the marketplace and by educating the consumer public and businesses regarding their respective rights and obligations,” the release says.

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