I have had the pleasure of meeting many of you face-to-face, pulling weeds, planting natives flora, and tromping through estuary mud alongside you. Perhaps we have only met through email correspondence, social media, or my monthly newsletter musings. Regardless, you are a valued supporter of Hui o Ko`olaupoko (HOK) and I would like to formally introduce myself as the new Executive Director.
For the past seven and a half years I have worked as the HOK Community Coordinator. This position provided me the pleasure of working with communities across the Ko`olaupoko moku to organize restoration projects and community cleanups and to share my passion for Hawai`i's environment with anyone who would listen. The opportunity to guide this organization as the Executive Director presented itself only two months ago, and I jumped at the chance to step into a larger role to continue to protect my life-long home of Ko`olaupoko.
As you may know, HOK has always been an organization with a small number of staff, never exceeding more than three full time positions. Currently, our staff consists of myself and our part time Grant Manager, Lehua Slater. As I settle into my new role as Executive Director, I will also still be acting as the Community Coordinator, with the help of a few summer interns and dedicated volunteers. While this is a full plate indeed, my focus will always be on perpetuating our mission of protecting ocean health by restoring the`āina: mauka to makai.
Moving into the second half of 2016, my goals as the Executive Director will revolve around two primary categories: improving current restoration sites and setting a foundation for organizational growth.
The HOK restoration sites have been a labor of love for me and it is of utmost importance that these sites continue to be maintained and act as the ecosystem improvements and educational opportunities they were designed to be. This goal can only be realized with significant support from our community volunteers who continuously lend a hand in the dirt and mud. HOK will continue to offer our two monthly Saturday service events at He`eia Estuary and Hakipu`u Stream and we have added weekday service opportunities at many of our other project sites. Upcoming events are listed on our Calendar and I invite you to join our small team for a meeting in the field!
In order to continue to maintain our current restoration sites and develop plans for our future, we need to increase our capacity through building our staff and trained volunteer base as well as growing our membership and grant writing capacity. In the fall of 2016, HOK will be seeking to hire an AmeriCorps member to fill the shoes of the HOK Community Coordinator and we are currently training committed HOK volunteers to lead service opportunities at many of our sites. Volunteers are the key to the success of this organization. Without the support of each and every individual, HOK could not function. Additionally, monetary support through an HOK membership or attendance at our yearly fundraiser provides our organization with funds to supplement grants and provide additional project support.
I am blessed to be able to live in and work for the communities in which I grew up, and I plan on sticking around! I look forward to the challenges and many rewards that lay ahead for me in this new endeavor and I know that you will continue to support HOK and our work towards protecting our island home. Please feel free to reach out to me with any concerns, congratulations, ideas, or proposals; I look forward to connecting with you all!
Me ka mahalo nui,
Kristen Nalani Mailheau