Matthew S. LoPresti, Ph.D. (University of Hawai‘i at Manoa) is Chair of the Asian and Pacific Studies Program and Associate Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Hawai‘i Pacific University and has been teaching philosophy at the university level since 1999. Matt has served in the Hawaii State Legislature, House of Representatives for District 41 since 2015.
Matt has lived the vast majority of his adult life on O’ahu (17 years). Born in Pittsburgh and raised in Ohio he moved to Hawai’i to pursue his dream of earning a Ph.D. in comparative East-West philosophy from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 1999 and has lived here continuously since that time.
Matt traces his passion for constant betterment of the community back to the days when he was a Boy Scout. His early involvement in community service at a young age helped to shape his community-oriented thinking, research, and civic action for over twenty years. He was elected to the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club, Oahu Group twice and currently serves as its Vice Chair. Matt has served as a volunteer locally in numerous community organizations for the past 15 years, including the Limu Project, serving as a judge for Hawaii student Speech and Debate tournaments, painting over graffiti throughout ‘Ewa Beach as a volunteer with HPD’s Weed & Seed officers and kids from the Boys and Girls Club, and serving on the ‘Ewa Neighborhood Board.
Matt is also a member of the Navy League of the United States of America and both his and his wife’s families have extensive military roots, with family members representing every branch of the armed forces. Matt is particularly proud of his father-in-law who became the first ever Filipino-American to earn the rank of Chief Warrant Officer in the United States Coast Guard and his ancestors who served in nearly every major conflict for our country as far back as the American War for Independence (Revolutionary War).
Matt’s work-ethic and his care for the land and the environment comes from both of his grandfathers, each of whom were farmers and small business owners and his father who spent a lifetime as a Professional Engineer building and designing industrial equipment to ensure clean air emissions across the country and around the world. Matt’s passion for education comes from his mother who was a teacher, and his can-do attitude and practical approach to problem-solving stems from his father’s grounded pragmatism as an engineer.
Matthew strives to practice the virtues that he teaches his students from both Eastern and Western global traditions. As a member of the Catholic Church, he has served as a lector and volunteer for Church activities. He also enjoys practicing Yoga and meditation.
As a firm believe that government cannot solve all of our problems, Matt has taken on entrepreneurial projects starting two businesses and co-founding an innovative renewable energy company to help our island community achieve energy independence through renewable resources and encouraging cradle-to-grave recycling efforts to reduce our waste stream.
Finally, and most importantly, Matt’s wife, Julia Avilla LoPresti, is his inspiration.
Born and raised in ‘Aiea, Julia is a fourth generation Filipina-American, whose family hails from Ewa Beach, ‘Aiea, Waimalu, and Moloka’i.
Julia was one of ten nominees in the state for Hawaii Teacher of the Year and was awarded Central District Teacher of the Year in 2010. She earned a Masters Degree in Theater Production from Central Washington University, Post-Graduate Teaching Certificate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and BA in History from the University of Northern Colorado.
Julia is a teacher and drama director at her alma mater, ‘Aiea Intermediate School. She also taught English and Social Studies at Wai’anae Intermediate School and was Executive Director for the Center for Performing Arts at Mililani High School.
Matthew and Julia are active supporters of the arts and Julia produces and performs in the local theater and live music scene. They are the proud parents of two daughters, Nina Sophia (7) and Aria Jane (3).
Experience and Affiliations:
- Hawaii State Legislature, House of Representatives, District 41
- Vice-Chair, Transportation Committee
- Finance, Labor, Education, and Higher Education Committees
- House Majority Policy Committee
- Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization
- Member, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee, Council of State Governments – West
- Member, Transportation and Economic Development Committee, National Conference of State Legislatures
- ‘Ewa Neighborhood Board
- Chair of the Asian & Pacific Studies Program at Hawaii Pacific University and Associate Professor of
- Philosophy & Humanities
- Cofounder and Executive Vice President, Kokua Renewable Energy
- Principal, Aloha Consulting, LLC
- Vice Chair, Sierra Club (Oahu Group)
- President of my Home Owners Association in Hoakalei/Ocean Pointe
- Internationally recognized and recruited scholar, speaker, author
- Adjunct Professor: UH-Manoa, Chaminade University, and Kapiolani Community College
- Navy League of the United States member
- Sons of the American Revolution member