Donor Stories

Jennifer Tanabe '92

It's no surprise that Jennifer Tanabe '92 has brought a fresh, new approach to the standard challenge of Class Gifts. After all, the effervescent corporate director of marketing for Anekona Real Estate Development has made a career of thinking creatively.
It's something that comes naturally. In sixth grade, Tanabe recalls English teacher Lynn Kano challenging the students to think up new ways of presenting their book reports. Tanabe chose to dress up as Madonna, while singing her report to the tune of "Material Girl." "I was so nervous I almost chickened out," she says with a laugh.
Today, the former Material Girl finds herself consumed by philanthropic goals. As Class Gift committee co-chair, Tanabe created the "First 5" and "First 15" giving clubs, composed of the first 5 people to give $5,000 and the first 15 people to give $2,500 to their Class Gift.

"The amounts were chosen to be generous yet attainable because many of our classmates are starting families and careers," Tanabe explains. "I knew I needed to set an example, so I became the first member of First 5," she says, describing the committee meeting where she first pitched the idea. "Four others joined that night and we walked away from that meeting with an additional $12,000 towards our gift. It may not seem like a lot, but it was a big milestone for us."

Tanabe, whose sisters – Elisa '96 and Megan '98 – also graduated from Punahou and whose mother Nancy is a kindergarten teaching assistant, attended Punahou as a recipient of financial aid. She describes her volunteer work with the committee as a way to honor and expand the school's tradition of serving students in need.
"Punahou shaped the foundation of who I am today," Tanabe says. "It equipped me with the skills I needed to succeed in college and in the workplace; it gave me lifelong friends, both teachers and students. Most importantly, this is where I learned to be a contributing member of the community."