Dr. Margaret Oda was born on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, in Wailea. A Nisei, her parents were Japanese immigrants from Hiroshima. Her father worked on a sugar cane farm where he eventually became the Wailea Milling Company’s vice president.
She received her Master’s degree in Mathematics at Michigan State University, and later her Doctorate of Education from the University of Hawai‘i at Manōa in 1977. She started her teaching career in 1951 rising to positions as vice principal and principal at several public elementary and high schools throughout Hawai‘i. Dr. Oda later served as Deputy Superintendent for the State of Hawai‘i Department of Education for three years and twice served as Honolulu District Superintendent in the 1980s. She remained in the administration realm of public education until her retirement in the late 1990s.
Dr. Oda is known for her philanthropic work in the field of education. She has served on community organization boards such as the Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation, Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy and Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. She is the past chair of the Museum's Hawai‘i Advisory Committee. Dr. Oda currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum. (April 6, 2007)