We're Hiring a Director of Aina Protection!


Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT) is looking for a Director of ʻĀina Protection to lead HILT’s efforts to protect threatened, privately-owned land with high conservation resources through voluntary conservation purchases and conservation easements. This position will play an integral role in the organizational strength of our nonprofit land trust. If the candidate is an attorney licensed in Hawaiʻi, the position may be expanded to also serve as In-House Counsel.

Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is Hawaiʻi’s islands-wide land trust with a mission to protect the lands that sustain us for current and future generations. We are a Hawaiʻi 501c3 nonprofit, and a nationally accredited land trust. HILT has protected over 21,000 acres throughout the islands, including Hawaiian cultural landscapes, working farms and ranches, and coastlines where we swim and play. Established in 2011 as a merger of four land trusts on Hawaiʻi Island, Maui, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi, HILT now owns and stewards 7 preserves, holds and monitors 35 conservation easements, is actively working to protect additional special places throughout Hawaiʻi, and connects residents and visitors to ʻāina through education and managed public access.


·       Execute the goals of HILT’s Strategic Land Protection Plan.

·       Conduct outreach to prospective landowners to promote conservation easements and voluntary conservation programs available to landowners.

·       Coordinate outreach with other providers of conservation programs including the NRCS to provide a minimum of four (4) public outreach forums on agricultural easements annually.

·       Respectfully engage stakeholders (neighbors, Hawaiian cultural practitioners, community leaders, involved community groups, and elected officials) about proposed conservation purchases or easements in their area, and find workable solutions where concerns arise.

·       Manage fee simple and conservation easement acquisitions including negotiation of Letters of Intent, Purchase and Sale Agreements, Grants of Conservation Easements, Deeds, Baseline Documentation Reports, and Management Plans.

·       Research land use history, including ancient Hawaiian use of the lands, changes to land use over time, current property status, conservation values, and future potential land uses.

·       Raise public and/or private funds to purchase fee simple properties and/or conservation easements, and cover project costs. Raising funds requires writing well crafted grant proposals, giving strong and clear oral presentations, galvanizing community support resulting in supportive oral and written testimony, storytelling, and conducting site visits to hike through the properties to be protected.

·       Timely meet the grant deliverables and report on grants secured.

·       Conduct due diligence, order and review transaction documents including title reports, appraisals, surveys, environmental studies, and where needed archaeological studies and/or biological surveys. Where due diligence issues arise, find solutions so that the project can proceed to closing.

·       Help facilitate the approval of projects through the HILT Land Committee and Board of Directors.

·       Manage transactions through to closing.

·       Provide updates and regular communications to HILT’s CEO, Board of Directors, Island Councils, Advisory Board, and HILT staff.  

·       Periodically review HILT’s Strategic Land Protection Plan with HILT’s CEO, and work with HILT’s CEO, staff, Board of Directors, Advisory Board, and Island Councils to revise the Plan as needed.

·       IF LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN HAWAIʻI: Serve as HILT’s In House Counsel, drafting all legal agreements, and providing general guidance to the nonprofit organization.


·       Passion for the mission of Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.

·       Three years of experience in land conservation and real estate transactions.

·       Ability to lead all aspects land transactions from negotiation to due diligence to escrow and title matters.

·       Familiarity with legal contracts.

·       Knowledge of Hawaiʻi’s State and County land use laws.

·       Knowledge of Hawaiʻi’s political and land use history.

·      Knowledge of Hawaiʻi’s natural, cultural, and agricultural resources.

·       Comfortable with regular interisland travel.

·       Valid Hawaiʻi driver’s license and driving ability.

·       Comfortable hiking rough terrain.

·       Strong writing and public speaking skills.

·       Community engagement experience and skills.

·       Bachelor’s degree.

·       IF LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN HAWAIʻI: In good standing with HSBA, and experience in land use, environmental, water, nonprofit, Hawaiian rights, real property, and/or contracts law.

Send cover letter and resume by November 1, 2019 to:
Makana Reilly, HILT Executive Assistant & Office Administrator
(808) 791-0729

Reconnecting to Our Shared Kupuna: Aina

My first three months at Hawaiian Islands Land Trust has been like waking up after a deep sleep.  Rise slowly, wipe the maka piapia from the eyes, take in the new day, and GO! Each experience has unfolded into new discoveries and filled me with awe and humility.  The commitment, dedication, love and hard work manifested at HILT is immeasurable. Much easier to quantify is the 21,000 acres of protected land (nearly the size of Kaho’olawe) that HILT has protected through conservation purchases and easements.  HILT has served as the catalyst to the loving transformation of land to aina. Through time on the land, removing rubbish and invasive species, planting natives, welcoming community, and observing the natural elements and seasons, land is transformed to aina.  In that transformation, the people caring for the aina are also transformed and nourished by the aina. Some shining examples are Maunawila Heiau as it nourishes the Hauula community and provides sanctuary to the moolelo, makani, manu, and mea kanu of this wahi pana, and Waihee Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge, where native plants like Loulu, Hala, Pohinahina, and Kaunaoa now thrive.  These are just a couple of examples of the inspiring places within HILT’s sanctuary, and the kanaka who malama them!

In addition to the awe of the new day after a long sleep, I also find my na’au filled with hope for Hawaii as we strengthen our connections to aina.  Through our work, HILT is cultivating community relationships with aina, providing meaningful opportunities to (re)connect to aina, and promoting ways of living in balance and harmony with our environment.  As the descendants of our shared kupuna, the aina, we thrive when our aina thrives. Similarly, when our aina ancestors are protected, nourished and loved, we are protected, nourished and loved. Our aina, the honorable kupuna that we all have in common, will lead the way, and we are merely the descendants that must listen and respond to their direction, guidance and aloha.  Aina is, after all, the longest living kupuna of us all and will continue to exist many generations beyond us, protecting, nourishing, and loving all the generations to come.

As we quickly approach the season of Lonoikamakahiki, a time of harvest, rest, and peace, it is serendipitous that we may take this as an opportunity to reflect on our collective kuleana and tune in to the aina.  This interdependent kuleana is both a privilege and a right: to responsibly care for the natural resources of our common kupuna, Aina.

— Makana Reilly

HTA Awards Funding to Natural Resources Programs

Mahalo to the Hawaii Tourism Authority for Supporting HILT with both an Aloha Aina Grant and a Kukulu Ola grant. These funds will support our conservation work at Maunawila Heiau in Hauula and at Kahili Beach Preserve on Kauai! These grants will help us to better work with the communities in these areas to create malama aina programs that successfully connect people to the land in meaningful ways. We look forward to sharing the progress with you in 2020!

See all the awards for 2020 here.

Na Moolelo Loli: Stories of Impact


My name is Kamalani Sayles. I am a freshman at Kahuku High and Intermediate School. I was born and raised in Hauula, it is my home. It is where I am meant to be. I write today to share about my participation in the Lima Hana Intern program at HILT’s Maunawila Heiau this summer. 

Even though I was born and raised in Hau‘ula, I had never been to Maunawila Heiau or learned of its importance. When I signed up for this program, I thought it would just be a summer job. I never expected to learn so much about the history and culture of my community. This made me realize that there is so much more to Hau‘ula than I thought. I want to continue to learn more. 

I also enjoyed the opportunity to be in charge of a project. My work partner and I were in charge of replacing the trail markers and redoing the signs. I enjoyed the work. It was rewarding to see how my finished projects make people want to come to visit this place.

Working with other ‘opio was also a learning experience. It was my first time meeting many of them. I was shy at first but as we worked alongside each other we learned about each other. In order to do our work, we had to talk to each other and figure out how to accomplish our goals. I learned how to turn a stranger into a friend.

This being my first job means I got my first paycheck. Now that I am older, I see how life can be hard and expensive. My paychecks allowed me to help my family with bills and other necessities. It made me feel really good to help my family financially. This also made me realize the importance of programs like this in our community. I hope other students will have this opportunity next year. 

Being part of HILT’s Maunawila Heiau ‘opio has made me appreciate all the hard work that has been done at Maunawila Heiau and in our community. I am committed to continue being part of the future work to malama Maunawila Heiau. 

Kamalani Sayles

The signs seen above are placed at the entrance to HILT’s Maunawila Heiau Complex in Hauula. They were created under the direction of Kamalani Sayles and the rest of the Hana Lima Interns.

HILT’s Lima Hana Program at Maunawila Heiau Complex in Hauula will provide a internships to low-income teens in the Hauula community. We recognize the profound need in this windward community for ‘āina -based education paired with job opportunities that provide valuable skill sets and professional development. Our Lima Hana Interns have a firm sense of self, know and appreciate their Hauula and Koolauloa lands and history, restore and rehabilitate the land, and are blossoming leaders of Hawaii. in 2020 we aim to offer 4 college or post-graduate internships, and 15 high school internships for Hauula and Koolauloa youth. We are working to raise $30,000 needed to hire Lima Hana Youth Interns in 2020 who will achieve the next phase of restoration efforts at Maunawila Heiau Complex. Should you be interested in supporting this program, please direct your donation here. Indicate “Lima Hana” in the notes.

Mahalo in advance for your kind support.

Hawaii Business and Conservation Leader Tim Johns To Be Honored for Hawaii Conservation Contributions


Hawaiian Islands Land Trust will honor Tim Johns at E Malama ʻAna Kakou, an annual fundraising gala to be held at Lanikuhonua on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Each year, HILT selects a person, group, or organization that has made a substantial impact in conservation and sustainability in Hawaii. 

Johns has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to Hawaʻi’s environment and sustainability. Kelvin Taketa, former CEO of the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) once described Johns as “the one steady presence in Hawaii conservation.” Johns’ conservation career has spanned more than three decades, beginning at The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii (TNCH) in 1986, where he was instrumental in establishing the Pelekunu and Moomomi Preserves on Molokai, Palehua Preserve on Oahu, Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on Hawaii Island, and in expanding Haleakala National Park on Maui.   Later, as Director of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Johns assisted in the creation of the Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge and in the expansion of the State of Hawaiʻi Watershed Partnership network. Then, in 2003 as the Chief Operating Officer of the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon, he worked with The National Park Service and TNCH on a conservation sale to expand Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by 116,000 acres (the largest single land conservation transaction in Hawaii’s history) and in 2008, worked with the DLNR and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) on a conservation sale to protect 3,716 acres of Moanalua Valley.  Johns also served as the Chair of the Hawaii Advisory Board of TPL for over 10 years, and as chair of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council for over 17 years.  He also chaired the U.S. Host Committee for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress, held in Honolulu in 2016.

“We are proud to honor Tim Johns for his visionary leadership in our community and his commitment to Hawaii’s environment and community” said Laura Kaakua, HILT’s CEO. “Hawaii is indebted to Tim, and people like him, who understand the value of conservation in Hawaii and dedicate their lives to ensuring its protection.”

Throughout his career, Tim has held various executive leadership positions within the private, public and non-profit sectors, including President & CEO of Bishop Museum; Chief Operating Officer of the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon; Chairperson of DLNR; Vice-President and General Counsel at AMFAC; director of land protection at TNCH; and an attorney at a major Honolulu law firm.  He is currently the President & CEO of Zephyr Insurance Company, Hawaii’s leading residential hurricane insurance carrier.

In addition to his extensive professional experience, Johns currently sits on numerous boards, including Bishop Museum, Polynesian Voyaging Society, and Malama Maunalua. He is also a U.S. Commissioner (Presidential appointment) on the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and is one of three trustees for the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust on Hawaii Island, which has recently expanded beyond ranching and real estate activities to include renewable energy and sustainable forestry initiatives.  He is Chair of Wai Maoli—the Hawaii Fresh Water Initiative, which, under the auspices of the HCF and a multidisciplinary Fresh Water Council, has developed a long-term blueprint to protect the sustainability of Hawaii’s aquifers state-wide.  In 2018 he was named to the Oahu Resilience Strategy Steering Committee for the City & County of Honolulu.

“Hawaii’s identity is indelibly tied to the land,” says Johns. “Organizations such as HILT play an absolutely vital role in protecting Hawaii’s valuable natural and cultural resources. What’s more, they are essential to maintaining people’s connection to land – it’s that connection that ensures future generations’ understanding of, and pride in, our heritage.  It is what helps make Hawaii so very special.” notes Johns.

Tim Johns, along with HILT’s many supporters, have enabled the organization to deliver an incredible amount of conservation success, protecting more than 20,000 acres across Hawaii. The Land Trust owns and stewards 7 preserves, holds 40 conservation easements restricting private land, and is actively working to protect additional special places. The 2019 E Malama Aina Kakou gala will enable HILT to protect and care for more irreplaceable lands to ensure communities across Hawaii will forever have coastlines to enjoy, healthy local food from farms, ranches, and fishponds, fresh drinking water from protected watersheds, and ancestral lands that maintain our connection with the past.

HILT invites everyone to join them in celebrating Tim Johns for his community leadership, philanthropy and vision at this year’s HILT benefit, E Malama Aina Kakou.

The evening is an island-style pāʻina under the stars at the historic and gorgeous grounds of Lanikuhonua. Guests will be treated to delicious local fare provided by the renowned culinary team from Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman, along with craft cocktails, an exciting live auction, and live entertainment.

Event Details:

Saturday, September 14, 2019

5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Lanikuhonua Cultural Institute

92-1101 Aliʻinui Dr

Kapolei, HI 96707

Tables of 10 are available for $2,500, $5,000 and, $7,500

Individual Tickets are $250 per person

Purchase Tickets online

Or by phone at (808) 791-0731

For more information about the event, visit hilt.org or email.