Meet The Team

The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (“HILT”) has a team of dedicated land conservation professionals.  

KAWIKA BURGESS, Chief Executive Officer

Kawika attended the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and received a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and a Certificate in Hawaiian Language.  He later attended the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and took graduate courses in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Kawika was subsequently hired by Trust For Public Land to lead a new program called the Native Lands Program to protect lands of significant cultural and historic value. He then worked at Kamehameha Schools as a Land Assets and Operations manager where he was responsible for the planning, development, and management of over 13,000 acres of land on the islands of O‘ahu and Moloka‘i.

Kawika next served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs where he oversaw the daily operations of the organization including the management of the agencies 26,000 acres of landholdings.  

Prior to joining HILT in 2016, Kawika served as the President and CEO of Real Property Management Alliance, a real estate management company on the island of O‘ahu. 

Scott Fisher, Associate Executive Director of Conservation

Scott grew up in Kula, and at age 17 enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After his discharge, he studied at Colorado State University.  Scott’s graduate work includes an M.A. in peace studies with a concentration in native Hawaiian strategies of peacemaking and reconciliation.  His Ph.D. explored the dynamics of post-conflict recovery in a civil war on the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, with a particular emphasis on how communities make wise decisions about conflicts over natural resources.

Since 2003 Scott has worked for the Maui Coastal Land Trust, first as a project manager at the land trust’s 277-acre Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge and now as the Associate Executive Director of Consevation for the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.  In this capacity he has led all aspects of the ecological restoration work conducted by the Land Trust.  Since 2005 he has served on the Maui/Lana‘i Island Burial Council and, more recently, as a board member of the Hawai‘i Wetlands Joint Venture, Public Access Trails Hawai‘i, and the Friends of Midway Atoll. Scott enjoys teaching people about cultural and natural history of Hawai‘i and pounding poi with his kids on the weekend.

Photo credit: Jason Jones

Photo credit: Jason Jones

Courtenay O’Connor, Associate Executive Director of Advancement

Courtenay O’Connor has served as HILT's Associate Executive Director of Advancement since June 2018. Courtenay 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 fundraising consulting 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.

Angie Britten, Development Director

Angela Britten was born and raised in Kailua, in Koʻolaupoko ahupuaʻa on the island of Oʻahu. She spent her childhood exploring the mountains and valleys of Oʻahu, learning the history and stories of her home and exploring the oceans surrounding the islands as a paddler for Kailua Canoe Club. Angie earned a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa specializing in Ethnic Literature and Hawaiian Studies.

She has worked in development for many years, most recently with Hawaiʻi Theatre Center and before that with Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. Angie has served as a board member for a number of nonprofit organizations including currently serving as President Elect for the Association of Fundraising Professionals - Aloha Chapter. Her upbringing and education inspired a passionate love for her one hānau (birth home) and its natural spaces. She enjoys practicing Hawaiian language, hiking, paddling and spending time with her daughter.

James Crowe, Land Steward

Born and raised on Maui, James is rooted in the islands.  That connection continues to grow stronger as he works to restore natural systems endemic to Hawai‘i and takes pride in the renewed life that has been given to the land.

Karen Pollard.jpg


Before the land trust formed, Karen came upon the future Waihe‘e Refuge while enjoying a beach walk with her family and thought to herself, “This place could be a nice, if someone just tidied it up a bit”. Ten years later and after graduating from UH Maui college with a degree in Ag and Natural Resources.  Karen joined the HILT team part-time while continuing her studies. To learn more about what to reintroduce at the refuge, Karen works part time at the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens (MNBG). A great partnership has since been formed between the two as seeds and seedlings exchange back and forth. In her first summer at MNBG, Karen collected 700 unwanted hala seedlings from the garden and planted them out in Waihe‘e with the help of volunteers, in the next summer that number doubled, and the planting continues!