The Nature Conservancy - Hawaiʻi
How did you find yourself in conservation? Who (or what) is your biggest inspiration in committing to this field?
I have been surrounded by conservation since birth. I have two inspirations in committing to this field. The first is my father who taught me about Hawaiʻi's natural history nearly every day of my childhood. And, the second is the continued vibrancy of the Hawaiian culture for generations to come.
Describe a typical work week or work day.
A typical week can involve lots of meetings to strategize with others about how we tackle the greatest challenges or leverage impactful opportunities. These meetings can be trustees that serve on the board, one-on-one with program directors, with cross department teams, or with external partner organizations. Most communication happens by email, so several hours a day can be spent replying to emails. It is important to spend some time improving strategic alignment and communication messages. Lastly, it can be difficult to carve out time for personal growth and development, but staying on top of industry trends as well as competencies helps the overall organization.
What is your most favorite or valuable memory working in the conservation field?
I have many, so it is hard to choose a "most" favorite. I have several memories from my childhood with my father. I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps after a visit to the early nēnē captive breeding at Pōhakuloa. There was a big pen of young goslings running around, and I got to collect ʻōhelo berries to feed them. Even at that young age, I began to understand the power of vision, perseverance and commitment. In my life, I have seen media about nēnē evolve from headlines about the world's rarest goose, to a regular nuisance on the golf course or neighborhood roads.
What is conservation to you?
Ensuring that Hawaiʻi's native natural resources are healthy and thriving, and that Hawaiʻi's unique culture and way of life, which spring from the islands' environment, are living the values of aloha and mālama as an inspiration for the world.
What advice do you have for students or emerging professionals?
Sit with the elders of your family and the community to learn the stories of the ʻāina and the people. Work for a period of time in the various sectors of society (e.g., private, public, non-profit and academic). It is good to have firsthand experience of what drives each sector and how they work together. And finally, when the time is right, take a seat at the table and accept the responsibility of leadership for our community.