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HMSA Member News > Board Member ProfileSummer 2004 IS Magazine7/7/04 IS Online

On the Move

HMSA board chairman Roger Wall never walks to the finish line.

By Georgette Woo

Stamina is critical for Roger Wall, Foodland's executive vice president and chief financial officer. His life is a marathon of responsibilities.

Rather than looking exhausted, though, he exudes great vitality and energy. He is tall, fit and handsome. He smiles easily and often.

A native of New York, Wall was attending Dartmouth College when he met Jenai Sullivan, daughter of Foodland founder, Maurice Sullivan. From friendship blossomed love and the two married in 1983, settling in New York City and then Philadelphia while he studied for his master's degree at the University of Pennsylvania. At first Wall couldn't imagine moving from the East Coast. But Jenai's family had other ideas. "Her parents really wanted us here," he says. "And Jenai had always dreamed of being part of the family business."

The Sullivans embraced Wall, bringing him into the business as well. And Maurice turned out to be his greatest mentor. "He had a strong entrepreneurial spirit," he says, "and a humanitarian outlook that was very inspiring."

Sullivan's death, in 1998, hit hard. "He was our guiding force," Wall says. "His passing impacted me and my family personally and professionally. But we've been able to draw on the knowledge of the kind of person he was to carry us forward." It was in Sullivan's honor that Foodland started the Give Aloha program, which matches customers' charitable donations dollar for dollar. In five years, the program has raised $5 million.

Wall also sits on many nonprofit boards. Along with HMSA's board of directors, these include Catholic Charities Hawai'i, Enterprise Honolulu, Blood Bank of Hawaii, and the Hawai'i Nature Center. Most rewarding, he says, are the projects that enable him to see the effects on an individual's life. One example is the Mary Jane Program, which provides a haven, support and counseling for disadvantaged single mothers.

"I got to know several of them," Wall says, "and I was able to see that, if not given this opportunity, their lives and those of their children could be very different. They're very grateful and, in turn, want to help others. That kind of thing drives home for me the impact charitable programs have."

Wall is also passionate about HMSA's board of directors. "HMSA has done a good job containing costs," says Wall, who was elected board chairman in May. "And I'm impressed with the way they promote healthy lifestyles. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own health and they really encourage that. Long term, if we want to address rising costs, that's going to be important."

Wall walks his talk, working out with a trainer a few times a week. His two teenagers are athletic and participate in many sporting events and tournaments. The family's annual vacation usually centers around biking, kayaking and hiking. And he and Jenai cook together frequently. "It can really help change the pattern of your day," he says, "because it requires you to focus in a different way. And it's important for the family to come together for a meal."

Going the distance for the community is important, too. There are many people who have few advantages in life, he says. "I think it's the responsibility of those who've been given opportunity to help others."

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