Who We Are

Navigating Humanity Towards a Sustainable Future

We are teachers, scholars, cultural practitioners, activists and communicators dedicated to promoting culturally appropriate and scientifically sound approaches to living on small islands, and on planet earth. We have decades of experience working in Hawaiian and other Native communities, and bringing those important values and lessons to bear on current situations.

Board Members:

M. Kalani Souza, Board Chair

Kanaka Maoli

Kalani is a gifted storyteller, singer, songwriter, musician, performer, poet, philosopher, priest, political satirist, and peacemaker. A Hawaiian practitioner and cross-cultural facilitator, he has experience in promoting social justice through conflict resolution. His workshops and lectures inspire, challenge and entertain the listener while calling all to be their greater selves.

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Dr. Failuatusi Avengalio Jr.

Samoan

Papalii Dr Failautusi ‘Tusi’ Avegalio is the director of Pacific Business Center Program at the UH Mānoa Shidler College of Business. He has consulted extensively for traditional chiefs, village councils, governments, colleges and universities, financial institutions, multi-national corporations and businesses nationally and internationally.

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Dr. Lynette Hi‘ilani Cruz

Kanaka Maoli

Dr. Lynette Hi‘ilani Cruz is a resident of Wai‘anae on O‘ahu and a retired professor of anthropology at Hawai‘i Pacific University.  She is a social justice advocate and coordinates and volunteers for mālama ‘āina projects at different ahupua‘a on O‘ahu.  She currently lectures in political science at Leeward Community College, Wai‘anae moku.

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Dr. Sharon Nelson-Barber

Rappahannock Indian

A sociolinguist, Sharon directs Culture and Language in STEM Education for WestEd. She has written extensively about STEM education in Indigenous settings, and is cofounder of POLARIS — Pacific/Polar Opportunities to Learn, Advance, and Research Indigenous Systems — a research and development network that supports healthy communities by integrating Indigenous perspectives with new frontiers of knowledge that strengthen educational transformation. 

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Dr. Chie Sakakibara

Indigenous Ryukyuan

Chie Sakakibara is a cultural geographer, and her teaching and research interests lie in the field of the human dimensions of global environmental change among indigenous peoples, specifically on their cultural resilience and socio-environmental justice.  Her current research focuses on climate change and its influence on traditional relationships with the bowhead whale in the Alaskan Arctic, particularly among the indigenous Iñupiaq people who call themselves the “People of the Whales.”

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Puanani Rogers

Kanaka Maoli

Puanani Rogers is a cultural practitioner of Hawaiian music and hula, and has done community advocacy work for three decades, working to educate Hawai‘i’s peoples about the ancient knowledge of what an ahupua`a is and how to manage its resources by restoring, protecting and preserving the precious ‘āina  and water.  She has served on the State Environmental Council, the Aha Hui Aloha ‘Āina Council, and several non-profit educational and cultural preservation organizations.  She is currently president of the Hui Aloha ‘Āina o nā Wāhine o Wai‘ale‘ale Women’s Patriotic League.

Staff:

Dr. Herman with his model voyaging canoe.

RDK (Doug) Herman

Executive Director

Dr. RDK (Doug) Herman holds a PhD from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and served as Senior Geographer at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. A Hawaiian-language speaker, he has taught university classes on the Geography of Hawai‘i and Geography of the Pacific Islands. view resume

Dawn Niederhauser

Finance and Administration

Dawn Niederhauser has over 20 years of experience in development and fundraising for a variety of organizations including the Baltimore City Public school system and several social service providers. She is also Director of Development for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive think tank headquartered in Washington DC.   


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