Maui News

Who did Gov. Ige nominate for the state Board of Land and Natural Resources?

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For the Hawaiʻi state Board of Land and Natural Resources, Gov. David Ige nominated five people. Top row (L-R): Aimee Keliʻi Barnes, Riley Smith and Doreen Canto. Bottom row (L-R): Karen Ono and Wesley “Kaiwi” Yoon

Gov. David Ige nominated an active Maui volunteer, a Hawai‘i Island engineer, a Kauaʻi real estate leader, a cultural museum vice president and a climate change small business owner to serve on the state Board of Land and Natural Resources. All five nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.

The nominees:

  • Doreen Canto: She has represented Maui on the Land Board on an interim basis since July 2021. A native Hawaiian, she has served on numerous community organization and government advisory boards. She served as the Maui commissioner for the Hawaiian Homelands Commission from 2014-2017 and was chairperson of the Maui Police Commission from 2005-2010. Canto is a Baldwin High School graduate and has an associate degree from the University of Phoenix. She works at Maui Grown Therapies.
  • Wesley “Kaiwi” Yoon: He has served on the Land Board since 2019 and is being nominated for a second term, as an at-large representative. His current term ends on June 30, 2022. Yoon is vice president of operations, planning and project management at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Previously, he worked at the Department of Land and Natural Resources from 2015-2018 and served two terms on the Legacy Land Conservation Commission from 2007-2014. He is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
  • Aimee Keli‘i Barnes: She has represented the City and County of Honolulu on the Land Board on an interim basis since January 2022. She is the principal of Hua Nani Partners, a small woman-owned consulting firm that provides policy and strategic advice to non-profit and philanthropic organizations, focusing on climate change. She has worked on environmental issues for 20 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in environmental science and policy from Columbia University.
  • Karen Ono: She was the long-time association executive for the Kaua‘i Board of REALTORS until last year, serving as the organizations chief executive from 1979-2021. She was a government affairs committee member for the association from 2018-2021 and served as the representative for the Chamber of Commerce, the Kaua‘i Business Council and the Rice Street Business Association. She holds an associate degree from Kaua‘i Community College.
  • Riley Smith: He has been president and chief executive officer at Lanihau Properties, LLC, since January 2013, and held leadership roles with the company since 2009. Previously, he led the construction of the submarine fiber optic network that connects the five major Hawaiian Islands. He has an extensive work history dating back to 1976 and has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Na Ala Hele Advisory Council. Smith is a Kamehameha Schools graduate, and has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Hawai‘i.

“These five individuals have demonstrated track records of leadership and performance in a variety of fields and settings,” Gov. Ige said. “Most importantly, they each have an overarching love and respect for the natural and cultural uniqueness of Hawai‘i.”


The Board of Land and Natural Resources has seven members: one from each district and two at-large members. The board chairperson is also the executive head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The board meets twice each month to act on departmental submittals, including land leases and Conservation District Applications.


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