Hawaiian Islands Land Trust Appoints Courtenay O’Connor as Associate Executive Director of Advancement

Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (“HILT”) announced today that Courtenay O’Connor has been appointed as its new Associate Executive Director of Advancement. O’Connor will be responsible for HILT’s overall fundraising and development program and building a culture of philanthropy for the organization. “We are very pleased to welcome Courtenay to the land trust and are excited to expand our fundraising program to keep up with the demand for our land conservation initiatives here in Hawaii,” said Kawika Burgess, HILT’s Chief Executive Officer.


O’Connor comes to HILT from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Hawaii where she served as the Senior Associate Director of Philanthropy. Prior to working at TNC, Courtenay served in various capacities at CCS, LLC an international strategic fundraising firm, where she planned and managed several successful fundraising campaigns. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Vermont, and a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.


“HILT has done a lot of great work here in Hawaii by working with landowners and conserving over 18,000 acres of Hawaii’s most precious natural and cultural resources. I look forward to the opportunity to grow the organization’s fundraising efforts which will allow the land trust to do even more conservation work,” said O’Connor.

Leaving a Legacy of Conservation

It takes people with a vision and passion for Hawai‘i, to help Hawaiian Islands Land Trust fulfill its promise of perpetuity. HILT created a society to recognize donors who have the vision and passion to ensure that future generations will benefit from our mission to protect the lands that sustain us. The ‘Āina Ho‘oilina Society (literally Legacy Land Society), is a distinguished group of loyal supporters who have included HILT in their will.


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The latest member of the ‘Āina Ho‘oilina Society is no stranger to philanthropy. Donna Howard spent her career working as a fundraising executive working primarily in higher education in California and Hawai‘i. Currently, she’s a freelance consultant and Advisory Board member for HILT. Donna notified us of her intentions to remember HILT in her will after a meeting with Clyde Sakamoto (HILT Board member and ‘Āina Ho‘oilina Society Member) who invited her to join. We asked Donna to share about her motivation. “When Clyde asked me to make a planned gift to HILT, I couldn’t say no. The conservation work HILT does is important to me.  Additionally, I recently heard a quote by Wendell Berry that resonates with me ‘we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our grandchildren.’ This gift is a simple way to pay it forward.”

“Making a planned gift is easy to do. I would encourage everyone to take a look at their will and see if there’s room to leave a legacy gift to HILT. There are so many options including simple bequests, life insurance gifts, and retirement plan gifts. And none of it costs me a thing today.”

Legacy gifts are vital to the perpetual stewardship of the thousands of conservation acres we monitor and maintain each year.  By remembering HILT in your will, you help to ensure that future generations will benefit from HILT’s mission to protect the special places that sustain us.

If you are interested in learning more about remembering HILT in your will, click here to learn more.  If you already have named Hawaiian Islands Land Trust in your will, please email us at