Carbon Farming Task Force Members

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

Mr. 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.

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

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 Manoa.  Dr. Crow is an ecologist and biogeochemist, who studies the natural carbon (C) cycle and human impacts on the soil environment.

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

A central theme of Dr. 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 Manoa

Dr. Jonathan Deenik is an extension agent with College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

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

Mr. 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

Ms. 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.

Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 Mr. 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.

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

Ms. 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.


Additional members to be designated