Hawaiʻi State Urban Forester | Kaulunani Program Coordinator | ISA Certified Arborist, Email
Heather (she/her) sees trees as a connector to our places, and our collective health, wellbeing and resilience. She was born in the volcanic landscape of Kilimanjaro, grew up in the US continental mid-west, and for the last 25 years has found home in the volcanic landscapes of O‘ahu, most recently in Pālolo. She is an ISA certified arborist, has a PhD in Anthropology with foci in conservation biology and ethnobiology, and is a humble learner of wood carving, lauhala weaving, and tree pruning. In her spare time she likes to meditate underwater and sing to fish.
Community Partnership Coordinator, Email
IRA Community Partnership Coordinator, Email
Koki Atcheson (she/her) helps our Kaulunani program and partnerships grow with support from the Inflation Reduction Act. She first started at Kaulunani as a Kupu Member from the Conservation Leadership Development Program in the Fall of 2022. She also has experience in invasive species outreach and conservation advocacy communications.
She attended high school at Pacific Buddhist Academy and studied environmental science at Colorado College. A fun fact about Koki is that she loves to sew and daydreams about the connections between sustainability and crafting!
Communications Associate, Email
Leʻa Kaʻahaʻaina (she/her) leads communication and outreach efforts for Kaulunani through our social media channels, website, newsletter, and in-person events. She was born and raised in Waimānalo, Koʻolaupoko, Oʻahu, where she continues to reside with her ʻohana. She’s dedicated her career to creating opportunities to engage with our environment and reciprocate through aloha.
Kaulunani Artist in Residence
Nalu first had an interest in carving at the age of six when he saw the 1978 voyage of Hōkūleʻa. He borrowed carving and voyaging books from his school library and began to try to make his own waʻa with items found around his home. While still in high school, he was asked to help with the lashing on Hōkūleʻa at Pier 40 where he met many artists and carvers that were involved in the new Hawaiian renaissance.
After high school, Nalu began making bone koʻi and makau for craft fairs and for the Bishop Museum gift shop. In 2015, Nalu created Na Maka Kahiko. Blending the old with the new; he created his hand carved ʻohe kāpala earrings inspired by designs found at the Bishop Museum.
In collaboration with Kaulunani and ‘Ohu ‘Ohu Ko’olau Inc., Nalu will be leading a series of workshops including “Carving Out Our Future: Growing Stewards and Healthy Forests Through the Practice of Kālai” where families will learn to carve māna ‘ai (first food dishes for babies).
Urban ‘Āina Fellow
Maya holds a M.P.H. specializing in Social and Behavioral Health Sciences from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She is currently pursuing a PhD with Dr. Jane Chung-Do, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. As a Fellow, Maya is working with Heather McMillen in contributing to the conceptual organization, editing, and writing of a publication in process that will describe our Urban ʻĀina concept, method, and practice. This article involves collective writing with Native Hawaiian community leaders that share their expertise in land stewardship and ancestral knowledge transmission.
Maya was born and raised in Pālolo Valley in the moku of Kona, and the city of Honolulu. She went to Maryknoll Schools for elementary and high school. Then she studied at the University of Washington, where she got her B.A. in Psychology. During her time in Seattle she worked at WAPI (Washington Asian Pacific Islanders) Community Center with their Youth Leadership, Drug Prevention, and Urban Art programs. It was there that she received anti-racism training through the JustServe sector of Americorp. She moved back to Honolulu to be a caretaker for her grandmothers, and also completed her MPH at the Office of Public Health Studies. She is currently finishing her PhD work on Indigenous Evaluation in Hawai’i in partnership with Kokua Kalihi Valley’s Hoʻoulu ʻĀina. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering at Hoʻoulu ʻĀina as it is her favorite community center and forest on Oʻahu.