Many things change in that amount of time: ten years ago my son was two, now he is entering 7th grade and throws a pretty good curve ball. It's also the length of time I have been at the helm of Hui o Ko'olaupoko. During this time we moved from an entity implementing very little on-the-ground restoration with limited community engagement to a leading non-profit constructing storm water practices and designing restoration projects all while engaging nearly 13,000 volunteers.
Now, after ten years I say goodbye and submit my final musings for HOK. These types of thank you notes have a tendency to be cliché: discussing the pride in the work we've done, how the entity's legacy is larger than one staff person, or how we have been involved with leaving Ko'olaupoko moku in better condition after 10 years of work. All this is true of course, but it's much bigger than these items.
In ten years we proved this model can work: a non-profit working across geo-political lines, diverse ahupua'a resources, multiple landowners, legacy land use issues and limited funding. The success has been possible because of community support. You have supported me and the organization for the last 10 years volunteering; sharing your knowledge and monetary donations, always with the resolute belief HOK could initiate change.
I thank each and every one of you: the many volunteers, for-profit companies, funding agencies, state and federal partners, universities, project supporters, community members, interns, college professors and the many individuals and other players in the journey. Thanks to our Grants Manager and her little sidekick for the best Tuesdays and office environment I can imagine. I also thank our Board of Directors who trusted me with no experience in Hawai'i to turn the organization into a thriving advocate for our watersheds. As I move onto the next phase of my career in Hawai'i, I take with me ten years of friendships, memories, lesson learned, tears shed, smiles spread, stress and most of all, pride.
Along with the community support, the other constant at HOK for eight of my ten years has been our Community Coordinator, Kristen Nalani Mailheau. To many, especially our volunteers, she has been the face of this movement. As such, I'm honored to hand her the 'golden shovel' and title of Executive Director. I know she will do wonderful things with HOK, our community, volunteers and watersheds. Simply put, you will not find a person more dedicated to protecting and restoring the natural resources of Ko'olaupoko. For that, I thank you Kristen for making me look good for the last eight years.
If you'd like to stay in contact with me, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until we meet again, please continue to support HOK's work by volunteering, a donation, attending our annual fundraisers or planting something native.
A hui hou, aloha and mahalo,