Hawaiian Islands Land Trust announced today that Laura Kaakua will be appointed as its new President and Chief Executive Officer starting in March 2019. Kaakua will be replacing Kāwika Burgess who will transition to HILT’s Board of Advisors and lead HILT’s development campaign. “We are very pleased to welcome Laura to the land trust and are excited with the level of land conservation experience that she brings to HILT. The land trust is in a great position to ensure that the most significant natural and cultural resources on each district on each island are protected for future generations,” said Jonathan Scheuer, HILT’s Board Chairman.
Kaakua is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law, and has extensive land conservation experience having spent the last 9 years serving as the Aloha ʻĀina Project Manager at The Trust for Public Land. She has also been a lecturer at the William S. Richardson School of Law and served as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Greg Nakamura in the Third Circuit Court. Kaakua is an alakaʻi of hālau hula Nā Pualei o Likolehua, a volunteer with Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, and served as a committee member of the Access to Justice Commission.
“HILT has worked with communities and landowners across Hawaiʻi to conserve over 18,000 acres of our most precious lands — from native forests, to ranch pastures, to coastal wetlands. I am grateful and excited to build upon the organization’s previous success, and continue to protect Hawaiʻi’s special natural places,” said Kaakua.
“I’d like to share my deepest mahalo to Laura for her extraordinary years at The Trust for Public Land’s Hawaiian Islands office, and congratulations to HILT for choosing such a promising leader,” said Lea Hong, The Trust for Public Land’s Hawaiian Islands State Director. “Laura has shaped and led our Aloha ‘Āina Program, collaborating with Native Hawaiian communities across Hawai‘i nei to conserve lands that re-connect people to land and their culture. I have no doubt that HILT will benefit from her talents and wish her the best of luck.”
“I am grateful to Lea and all of my Trust for Public Land colleagues and community partners for their incredible work over the years and for their support today. I look forward to partnering with The Trust for Public Land and other organizations and agencies to further our shared goals,” Kaakua said.