Chanda Keawe had been working in the retail industry for 20 years when she got a request through LinkedIn: an invitation to apply for an opening at Public Storage. The thought of working in self storage had never crossed her mind. Up until then, she had worked for CVS and spent more than a decade with Walmart.
She joined our Oahu team in April 2020 and hasn’t looked back.
“It was something new but it was still in operations—which I love. I love that I would still be working with customers,” Keawe said. “It was also a great change of pace. The work-life balance the position offered was exciting.”
Celebrating Pacific Islander Heritage
Born and raised in Hawaii, Keawe grew up in Waimānalo, a small windward community on the eastern end of the island of Oahu.
“As a Pacific Islander, we have a lot of family members,” she said. “I think that’s why a lot of us don’t move to the mainland—we don’t want to be away from family.”
That meant there were always family birthday parties or celebrations to attend on the weekends. Which also involved a lot of hugging and laughing.“That’s just how we show love,” she said. “We also show that through food.”
Leis are another expression of love, Keawe explained. Hawaiians even have a special holiday devoted them. May 1st is known as Lei Day.
Growing up, she remembers making leis for graduations, weddings and other celebrations using plumeria blossoms and other items from her back yard.
Keawe attended and graduated from the Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, a private elementary, middle and high school for native Hawaiian’s that educated her while emphasized the importance of maintaining her Hawaiian values and respect for others, including taking care of one another.
“I’m super proud of that,” she said.
Hawaii Pacific University was where she earned a bachelor of science in business administration, followed by a master’s of business administration from University of Phoenix.
Keawe has been married to her husband, Solomon, for 24 years, and together they have four kids that range in age from 7 to 25 years old.
And now, as a mother of four, she’s happy that two of her sons have also been accepted into Kamehameha Schools. In fact, she and eldest son Elisha were able to take part in a special tradition for alumni.
The duo (seen above in main image) attended their high school reunions together—25th for her and 6th for her son. Normally the graduating classes ending five years apart all get to celebrate together during the month of June, but due to COVID his class also attended. The alumni association creates events for all the classmates to participate in and the month-long celebration ends with a huge luau held on the Kamehameha Schools Kapālama grounds in Oahu.
It’s also important for Keawe to make sure her children understand the value of giving back to the community. And she leads by example, volunteering for several organizations including March of Dimes, Boys and Girls Club, and Dress for Success Hawaii.
For Keawe, that’s one of the things about Hawaii that makes it so beautiful: the people.
“We have that aloha spirit,” she shared. “Everyone is an auntie or uncle to you, out of respect for your elders,” she said. “It’s that level of respect we offer each other regardless of who we are or where we are from.”
In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month we want to celebrate Keawe and the rest of our team.
Joining the Public Storage Team
After spending 12 years at Walmart in store operations, Keawe moved over to Longs Drugs, which is a division of CVS Health in Hawaii.
She began as a field-training manager and less than two years later was promoted to marketing and merchandise operations manager.
In 2018, she was again promoted, this time to district leader responsible for the training and succession planning of store managers, assistant managers and pharmacists, among many other tasks.
After getting the tip about the Public Storage opening, Keawe applied and was interviewed by a regional manager based in San Francisco. She remembers taking the call outside of her daughter’s dance class and thinking it would impact her chances of being hired.
Keawe asked questions about what a day in the life looked like for a manager.
“It sounded really exciting,” she said. “I like the administration portion and being able to meet with the property teams—I liked that balance.”
It also meant no early mornings or late nights.
Keawe was hired, joining our team as a district manager–in–training for eight months when she replaced a retiring district manager. Today, she oversees six properties on the west side of Oahu.
“Working for Public Storage allows me to spend more time with my family,” Keawe said. “Everything I do is for them—being able to work at Public Storage has really helped me balance that out.”