17 May Kupu Selects Pacific Resiliency Fellows Program Inaugural Class

Rising Local Professionals from Hawai‘i and Pacific Island Communities Will

Gather in Hawai‘i in July

HONOLULU – Hawai‘i’s leading conservation and youth education organization Kupu is pleased to announce the selection of its first Pacific Resiliency Fellows (PRF) program cohort. The inaugural class includes conservation and sustainability professionals from Hawai‘i, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Guam, Palau, and Rapa Nui. The goal of the program is to build local capacity in smaller island areas by developing and empowering rising leaders and social entrepreneurs working to build more sustainable and resilient communities.

“We are excited to launch this innovative environmental fellows program,” said Kupu CEO John Leong. “The Pacific Resiliency Fellows is an opportunity to support rising local professionals currently working to enhance environmental, cultural, and community strength and well-being within their islands. These individuals are well-positioned to affect change, and together we will build more resilient and sustainable communities throughout Hawai‘i and the Pacific.”

Kupu’s Pacific Resiliency Fellows program will include field-based and intersession curriculum, networking and mentorship opportunities, and professional development trainings to strengthen leadership, management, and strategic communications skills. Fellows will convene in Hawai‘i from July 15-24 for the first of two 10-day trainings. The group will participate in workshops, visit cultural and conservation sites throughout O‘ahu, meet and work with innovative community leaders, and attend events including the 25th Annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

Congratulations to the 2018 inaugural class of Pacific Resiliency Fellows:


  • Seneuefa Muliagatele, Engineering Technician, American Samoa Power Authority


  • Jihan Younis, Coral Reef Initiative Education and Outreach Coordinator, CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Division of Coastal Resources Management
  • Mallory Muña, Communications Specialist, CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Division of Coastal Resources Management


  • Patrick Keeler, Watershed Coordinator, Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans
  • Farron Taijeron, Project Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy 


  • John Cowen, Associate, Investments, Ulupono Initiative
  • Weston “Mana” Purdy, Natural Resource Manager, Lili‘uokalani Trust
  • Vernon “Kalani” Quiocho, Native Hawaiian Program Specialist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
  • Jhana Young, Sustainable Fisheries Program Coordinator, Conservation International


  • Masubed “Mas” Tkel, Coastal Fisheries Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy
  • Shilwitt “Blodak” Quichocho, Kayangel Protected Areas Network (KPAN) Program Coordinator, Palau Protected Areas Network


  • Poky Tane Haoa Hey, Elected Representative, Comisión de Desarrollo de Isla de Pascua (CODEIPA/Commission for the Development of Rapa Nui)
  • Tiare Aguilera Hey, Lawyer, KEHO STUDIO

“Providing a space for our Pacific Resiliency Fellows to connect with and learn from Hawai‘i’s community leaders, kupuna, seasoned professionals, as well as from each other, creates an opportunity to grow our community and culture of conservation and sustainability throughout the Pacific,” added Leong.

The Pacific Resiliency Fellows program is a legacy initiative of the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress. Program sponsors and supporters include the Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, and Hawaiian Airlines. For more information about the program, visit www.kupuhawaii.org/pacific-resiliency-fellows.

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