Carbon Farming Task Force Members

Chair Leo R. Asuncion, Jr., Director of State of Hawai‘i Office of Planning

Leo Asuncion is the Director of the Office of Planning, State of Hawai‘i. He is responsible for the overall management, budgeting, oversight, and leadership of the office, development of policies, studies, and reports generated by the office’s team of planning professionals, implementation and management of the federal and state Coastal Zone Management Acts, and representing the office before Federal, State and Local decision makers, communities, and the public.

Previously a Senior Regulatory Analyst and Senior Integrated Resource Planning Analyst with Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Mr. Asuncion has experience in project management, land use planning, CIP, policy development, and program evaluation during his 20+ years as a professional planner.

Mr. Asuncion holds BA and MURP degrees from the University of Hawai‘i, an MBA from Hawai‘i Pacific University, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) since 1994.

The Honorable Alan M. Arakawa, Mayor of the County of Maui

Mayor Alan M. Arakawa served as Maui County Mayor from 2002 to 2006 and was re-elected in 2011 and 2014, making him the first Maui Mayor to serve consecutive terms since Linda Lingle won re-election in 1994.

Mayor Arakawa was born in Wailuku, Hawai‘i in 1951, graduated from Maui High School and attended the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa as a business major. He entered civil service in 1984 as a wastewater plant worker for Maui County and became a supervisor in the wastewater division of the Department of Public Works. He was both a United Public Workers Chief Steward and a Hawai’i Government Employees Association Union Representative.

In 1994, Mayor Arakawa made his first run for public office. He succeeded in being elected to the Maui County Council and was re-elected in 1996 and 2000.  During his time on the Council, he served as Chair of the Planning, Parks and Land Use committees. He also spearheaded the movement to create nonpartisan elections for Maui County government seats.  In November 2002, he decided to run for Mayor of Maui County and was elected Mayor in a nonpartisan race.

Mayor Arakawa’s background in environmental management, coupled with his passion for sustainability, has guided him in his efforts to develop renewable energy sources in Maui County. Additionally, under his leadership Maui County has appropriated funds for numerous capital improvement projects to repair and upgrade Maui County’s aging water, wastewater and other critical infrastructure systems.

Mayor Arakawa believes that the islands’ energy future must include locally produced sources of energy, including solar, wind, biofuel and other types of renewable energy. He feels strongly that the billions of dollars spent annually by Hawai‘i residents on imported oil can be redirected to productive use by Hawai‘i residents.  Mayor Arakawa advocates the goal of generating all of our energy from renewable sources, and developing storage capacity. Currently, Maui County generates approximately 35% of its energy from renewable sources, which is a 20% increase from 2011 when Mayor Arakawa took office.

Mayor Arakawa is married to wife Ann, a retired Assistant Professor of Mathematics at University of Hawai’i – Maui College.  They are the parents of two grown daughters, Jan and Jodi. Mayor Arakawa remains actively involved with a number of non-profit organizations, and founded the Mayor Arakawa Community Kokua Fund in 2002 to provide financial assistance to groups and individuals in need.

Professor Susan E. Crow, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Susan Crow, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  Prof. Crow is an ecologist and biogeochemist, who studies the natural carbon (C) cycle and human impacts on the soil environment.

Prof. Crow’s work includes manipulative field experiments, natural gradient studies, isotopic analysis (13C and 14C), and laboratory trials.

A central theme of Prof. Crow’s work is global change impacts on ecosystems, natural and managed, and the services they provide to society: global change issues include climate change, introduction of invasive species, land-use change, land management practices, etc.

Current research projects center on three primary areas:

1) Biofuel production,

2) Sustainable agriculture, and

3) Mechanisms of C stabilization.

Jonathan Deenik, Ph.D., Extension agent with College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Jonathan Deenik, Ph.D., is an extension agent with College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Dr. Deenik believes that healthy, productive soils are the foundation of a secure food system. In Hawai‘i, where soils vary dramatically across the landscape, developing management strategies that maintain soil health and productivity is challenging. Dr. Deenik’s program focuses on assisting farmers and land managers in Hawai‘i to implement soil management practices that maintain good crop production, and more importantly, enhance soil quality and protect the soil for future generations. Dr. Deenik’s work integrates research and extension activities with a strong commitment to farmers throughout Hawai‘i. Dr. Deenik also teaches TPSS 304 Fundamentals of Soil Science every Fall semester and mentor a number of students in his lab.

The Honorable Mike Gabbard, Hawai‘i State Senator

Senator Mike Gabbard currently serves as chair of the committee on Agriculture and Environment. He is also vice chair of the committee on Water and Land and a member of the committee on Judiciary and Labor.

Senator Gabbard represents Hawai‘i’s 20th Senatorial District and has served in the Hawai‘i State Senate since 2006. Senator Gabbard served on the Honolulu City Council from 2003-2005.

Born on January 15, 1948 in American Samoa, Senator Gabbard and his wife, Carol, have five children: Bhakti, Jai, Ryan, Tulsi, and Vrindavan. Senator Gabbard is a graduate from Choctawhatchee High School and received a B.A. in English from California State University, Sonoma in 1971. He continued his education, receiving an M.A. in Adult Education with emphasis on community college administration from Oregon State University in 1980.

Scott Glenn, Director of State of Hawai‘i Office of Environment Quality Control

Scott Glenn is the Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC). As the Director of OEQC, he is tasked with public education and outreach, conducting research, submitting and providing testimony on legislative initiatives, recommending programs, and providing advice and assistance regarding Hawai‘i’s environmental review process. The Director sits as an ex officio voting member on The Environmental Council, The Advisory Committee on Plants and Animals, and The Emergency Response Commission. Prior to coming to the Office of Environmental Quality Control, Mr. Glenn worked as an environmental planner in the private sector. He received his Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Hawai‘i in 2009. Mr. Glenn specializes in asset management, environmental planning and compliance, environmental review, and climate change adaptation planning.

Philipp LaHaela Walter, State of Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife

Philipp LaHaela Walter is the State Resource and Survey Forester of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Mr. LaHaela Walter took on a leading role in the Department’s initiatives in Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) mechanisms including forest carbon capture with a number of groundbreaking pilot projects across the state.

Diane L. Ley, Director of the Department of Research and Development for the County of Hawai‘i

Diane Ley is the Director of the Department of Research and Development for the County of Hawai‘i where she oversees the delivery of programs and services that enhance the quality of life and sustainability of Hawai‘i Island communities through leadership in the areas of energy, agriculture, tourism, economic and community development, film and immigration.

Ms. Ley previously served as the State Executive Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Basin, the Deputy Director of the County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Research and Development and as the Deputy to the Chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. She operated a vegetable farm in Volcano and has served roles with the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation and the Hilo Main Street Program.

Michael A. Madsen, P.E., Hawai‘i Department of Health Clean Air Branch

Michael Madsen has 20 years of experience as an Environmental Engineer at the Hawai‘i Department of Health Clean Air Branch (CAB).  Mr. Madsen’s initial work was in CAB’s permitting section to conduct engineering evaluation of the construction and operation of air pollution sources. Mr. Madsen is currently working to develop and implement CAB’s Greenhouse Gas, Regional Haze, and Emissions Inventory Programs.

Kahi Pacarro, Executive Director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i

After a successful career start in real estate development, the market crash necessitated a rethink for Kahi Pacarro. Cashing in on the success garnered through hi-rise condominium development spawned a two year around the world surf trip. What he witnessed along the way caused a shift in his mindset. Our overuse of plastic and overall disregard for the health of our oceans was resulting in the degradation of paradise.  Mr. Pacarro is now the Executive Director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i.

Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i inspires local communities to care for their coastlines through fun, hands-on beach cleanups. It also coordinates educational programs, a “voluntourism” program, waste diversion services, public awareness campaigns and help others run their own beach cleanups.

Josh Stanbro, Chief Resiliency Officer and Executive Director of the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency for the City and County of Honolulu

Josh Stanbro is tasked with leading the City and County of Honolulu’s resilience building efforts to help O‘ahu prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from the ‘shocks’ – catastrophic events like hurricanes, fires, and floods – and ‘stresses’ – slow-moving disasters like water shortages, homelessness, and unemployment, which are increasingly part of 21st century life.

As Chief Resilience Officer, Mr. Stanbro will serve as part of Honolulu Mayor Caldwell’s cabinet and oversee the development and implementation of a comprehensive Resilience Strategy for the city. He will also lead the new Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency, created by voters who approved a Honolulu charter amendment in November 2016.  Stanbro will work within the Honolulu city government to break down existing barriers at the local level, account for pre-existing resilience plans, and create partnerships, alliances and financing mechanisms that will address the resilience vulnerabilities of all Honolulu city residents, particularly among low-income and vulnerable populations.

Mr. Stanbro’s position as Chief Resilience Officer is an essential element of Honolulu’s resilience building partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller FoundationThe 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) organization is part of a $164M commitment by The Rockefeller Foundation to build urban resilience in 100 cities around the world.

Mr. Stanbro brings a wealth of sustainability experience and a track record of developing partnerships to his new role within Honolulu Mayor Caldwell’s administration. Mr. Stanbro served as a  Program Director for the Hawai‘i Community Foundation since 2009, where he led the Hawai‘i Fresh Water Initiative and the Community Restoration Partnership. He previously served as Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land-Hawai‘i, where he completed the acquisition of over 25,000 acres of land for preservation in perpetuity. He has worked in various roles with Envision Hawai‘i, the Coastal/Estuarine Land Conservation Planning Advisory Group, the South Kona-Ka‘u Coastal Conservation Task Force,  and the Hawai’i Forest Stewardship Committee. Stanbro earned a BA from Claremont McKenna College and his Juris Doctor from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. He spent a visiting semester at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa where he earned a Cali Award in Native Hawaiian Rights.

Ben Sullivan, Energy & Sustainability Coordinator for the County of Kauai

Ben Sullivan is the Energy & Sustainability Coordinator for County of Kauai. He is responsible for guiding energy projects and policy to meet the aggressive goals Kauai County has set for energy and carbon reduction. Prior to working for Kauai County, he was Strategic Planning Chair on Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s Board of Directors, helping KIUC to move towards its goal of 50% renewable energy by 2023. Mr. Sullivan came into the energy sector as a community advocate for clean energy when he helped found the grassroots organization, Apollo Kauai, in 2005. Previously, Mr. Sullivan spent fifteen years in architecture with a focus on green building. He graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design.

Stephanie A. Whalen, Executive Director of Hawai‘i Agriculture Research Center

Stephanie A. Whalen has been the president and director and currently is the executive director of the Hawai‘i Agriculture Research Center (HARC), formerly the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association. The organization is a non-profit research institution formed in 1882 to maintain, advance, improve and protect the sugar industry in Hawai‘i and to support the development of agriculture in general, including the support of an experiment station. With the downsizing of the sugar industry in Hawai‘i the organization shifted its emphasis to the development of new agricultural businesses and services.

For 31 years, Ms. Whalen has worked within the sugarcane industry. She started as a pesticide residue chemist. When she became the head of the Environmental Science Department, her responsibilities included planning and directing research on environmental chemistry, pesticide metabolism, and chemical drift and air, water, and soil quality monitoring. Chemical safety, waste disposal, and wastewater treatment were also under the purview of the department, as well as the monitoring and study of crop-protection chemicals used by the sugar industry, and planning and directing research in support of registration of new crop-protection chemicals. Because of concerns with air quality due to cane burning, considerable research involved alternate uses for cane fiber trash in the field.

During the past 30 years, Ms. Whalen has also represented agricultural interests at the state legislature and as an active member of many of the Hawai‘i state task forces and other advisory groups and committees established to address various environmental regulatory issues.

With the shuttering of Hawai‘i’s sugar companies, Ms. Whalen efforts have been directed to maintaining the professional expertise and research capabilities of HARC during this transition. She is also responsible for its property and asset management. The company has approximately 50 employees located at 3 sites on Oahu.  HARC has been involved in crop yield and quality improvement, by-product research and development in paper, building materials, energy and fine chemicals from agricultural waste fibers. Sugarcane is one of the highest biomass producing crops and Hawai‘i provides excellent year round growing conditions for biomass production. Grass wide-hybrids and oil tree crops are being targeted as potential biofuel crops.

Earl J. Yamamoto, Planner, Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture


Additional members to be designated