Maui Business

Nature Conservancy Names New Maui Nui Director

November 10, 2015, 8:45 AM HST
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Alison Cohan. Hawai‘i Nature Conservancy photo.

Alison Cohan. Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i photo.

Alison Cohan, an eight-year veteran with the Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i, has been named as its new Maui Nui program director.

Cohan will oversee all terrestrial conservation programs for Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i, including six Nature Conservancy preserves.

She succeeds Mark White, who is transitioning to a new conservation role after a 27-years as Maui director at the conservancy.

“I am very pleased that Alison was chosen to lead the Maui Nui Program,” said White, who will stay on as a senior advisor to assist with her transition until Dec. 31. “She has the necessary skills and experience the job requires, as well as tremendous initiative. She’s not someone who shies away from new challenges.”

Cohan has worked in Hawaiian conservation for the past 16 years, first with the National Marine Fisheries Service conducting monk seal research at Laysan Island in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and later, with the Pacific Whale Foundation, where she served for seven years.


She joined the conservancy’s Maui Nui Program in 2007, working at its field representative.


Since then, she has been instrumental in securing numerous grants from public and private sources, including more than $500,000 in government conservation grants. She is a Conservation Planning Action (CAP) coach and serves as a leader for the conservancy’s Hawai‘i “Women in Nature” diversity initiative. She also was recently elected vice-chair of the Maui Conservation Alliance.

“I am very excited to have this opportunity,” Cohan said. “It was a very rigorous selection process. I look forward to continuing the great success that the Maui Nui program has achieved under the leadership of Mark White and to directing our talented and dedicated staff.”

Cohan, 40, grew up in the hill country outside Austin, Texas, and moved to Hawai‘i in 1999. She has a BA in animal behavior from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and an MA in applied science, environmental policy and management from the University of Denver.


She recently co-published a peer-reviewed article, “Subalpine Vegetation Recovery 14 years after Feral Animal Removal on Windward East Maui, Hawaiʻi” (Pacific Science 68(1):19-34. Hughes, G., Cohan, A., Brown, E., & White, M).

Cohan has also presented numerous papers and posters covering a wide range of topics, including contracting for conservation, innovative conservation tools, game cameras and climate change adaptation.

“I have always been most at home in the outdoors, beginning with my first backpacking trip when I was about 6,” she said.

The avid surfer and a busy mother and wife, started her new job on Monday, Nov. 9.

Visit The Nature Conservancy at

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