Meet The Team
The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (“HILT”) has a team of dedicated land conservation professionals.
Laura Kaakua, CHief Executive Officer
Hawaiian Islands Land Trust appointed Laura Kaakua as President and Chief Executive Officer in March 2019.
Kaakua is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, and has extensive land conservation experience. She spent the last nine years serving as the Aloha Aina 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 alakai of halau hula Na Pualei o Likolehua, a volunteer with Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, and served as a committee member of the Access to Justice Commission.
Scott Fisher, PhD, Chief Conservation Officer
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 PhD. 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.
Angela Britten, CFRE, 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 and its natural spaces. She enjoys practicing Hawaiian language, hiking, paddling and spending time with her daughter.
James Crowe, Land Stewardship manager
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, FIELD TECHNICIAN
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!
Alan was born and raised in upcountry Maui and graduated from St. Anthony High School. After attending college in Seattle, Alan enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, and served in Force Reconnaissance from 1973-1977. After his service Alan worked for his family business, DeCoite Packing House and Ranch, a position he held for 38 years. Alan opened the Maui military museum in 1996, following his passion for military history, especially aviation history. Alan has recovered many historic aircraft in remote areas of Maui and Moloka’i, and has been a leader in preserving the numerous World War II artifacts across the island. In 1999 Alan turned his passion into his profession when he began working on Kaho’olawe as an aircraft archaeologist. Upon the completion of the clean-up phase, Alan worked for the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission for another four years as an Island Reserve Specialist, Grade III, the first selectee to hold this position. Alan brings with him a passion and enthusiasm for hard work, and a dedication to the land. As a role model in the community, Alan especially loves working with young people.
Makanahaʻaheoanākūpuna Reilly, Office Manager & Executive Assistant
Makanahaʻaheoanākūpuna Reilly brings her expertise to the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust as of August 2019. Mother of two keiki ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi, ʻōlapa for Hālau Nā Pualei o Likolehua, and founder of Pūlama Nōmilu, a non-profit that protects and cares for the Nōmilu fishpond on Kauaʻi, Makana is no stranger to advocacy and protection of the rights of Native Hawaiians and the lands which we call home. Born and raised in a multigenerational, traditional home in the beautiful Mānoa, on the island of Oʻahu, Makana was raised by a legacy of strong Native Hawaiian female educators. Her formal education includes a Master of Arts in ʻŌlelo Hawai`i with a focus on Familial Land Management Options, a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the University of Miami, graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, and most importantly, a proud graduate of Pūnana Leo O Honolulu.
In her previous work duties as one of the two Luna Ho’okele (Manager) of the community gathering space, Ka Waiwai, Makana helped to bring an innovative community gathering and working space into reality. Building on strong, trusted relationships with community leaders, Makana’s reputation to breathe life into a new visionary workspace launched Waiwai into a community staple and home for activists, educators, ‘ohana and learners. In addition to her professional duties, Makana has a number of volunteer kuleana as a member of the Kōmike Advocacy and Kōmike Hoʻolōkahi, both under Kanaeokana, a member of the kōmike on protocol at the Mānoa Heritage Center, Executive Board member of Nā Leo Kākoʻo, the parent organization at Ke Kula Kaiapuni O Ānuenue, and a parent rep at the ʻAha Kauleo Statewide Consortium.
Rebekah Matagi Walker, Maunawila ‘Aina Education Specialist
Rebekah Matagi Walker is from Ko‘olauloa, O‘ahu and resides in Hau‘ula. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Pacific Islands Studies from BYU-Hawai‘i and holds a Master’s degree in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has been a University lecturer for over 13 years and currently oversees the community management of HILT’s Maunawila property. In addition to overseeing the property and organizing community service projects at Maunawila, Rebekah also runs youth programs at this Hau‘ula site, including: Maunawila Menehune, Maunawila ‘Opio, and Maunawila Lima Hana. These youth programs help teach Hau‘ula students the value of wahi kupuna (ancestral places) and mo‘olelo (histories). While the Menehune program aims to service elementary age students, the ‘Opio and Lima Hana programs employ high school students during summer months. Such work experience helps provide income to high school students and offers job training in ‘aina based career avenues.