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Who We Are

Board of Directors:

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Jaya C. Dupuis 

Jaya Dupuis has since 1989 immersed herself in the natural world of subsistence farming in Hawai’i; and since 2014 has been project coordinator for the restoration of Keau’ohana native rainforest State  Reserve. As CEO of  Hawaii Environmental Restoration, and  author of “Hawai’i Plant World Essentials“, she is dedicated to community outreach and education of critical vegetation issues, in support of Hawaii’s lowland environment. You can also find her 2012 thesis about vegetation patterns in Hawaii:  “Invasion and Resilience in Lowland Wet Forests of Hawai‘i“. 

Read More about Jaya…


Secretary /Treasurer:
Jim Buck
Certified Public Accountant specializing in small business, who is volunteering accounting and tax preparation services in support of this forest project. Jim contributed most of the legwork in starting our new non-profit. Jim is also a successful grant writer. He and his wife, Laura, have been married for 43 years.


Director at Large
Russell Ruderman
Past Hawai’i State Senator of the Puna and Ka’u Districts, and founder and owner of Island Naturals, a group of Big Island natural food stores. Russell is a strong environmental advocate and has had a major supportive influence with us receiving two State grants from the Legislature for the restoration of Keau’ohana. Russell has also offered generous donations toward the project. Russell is also an enthusiastic amateur musician, and lives in Keaau with wife Dina and daughter Aviva.


Cultural Advisor: 
Tom Brennon

Tom has been a mo’o for the Protect Kaho’olawe Ohana since in 1990,  after the State of Hawai‘i designated the island as a natural and cultural reserve, “to be used exclusively for the preservation and practice of all rights customarily and traditionally exercised by Native Hawaiians for cultural, spiritual, and subsistence purposes.” Hawaiian protocol for Keau’ohana has been performed based on Jaya’s personal training with Tom since the late 1990’s. As a retired kumu of HAAS charter school, his supportive presence to HER becomes more prominent.

jon Rathbum

Field Assistant: 

Jon Rathbun
Longest standing crew member and avid supporter of native species and environments. Jon is a plant specialist developing a picture identification book of all plant species found on the Island of Hawai’i.  Jon offered countless volunteer hours helping establish the trail system a year prior to the project’s launching.

All Other Members:


Koa Quitevis
Yet another wonderful weekly field worker with a sincere interest and knowledge in Hawaii plant life.


Greg DiBenedetto

Resident of Black Sands subdivision, was on the crew for over a year when our efforts first began in the forest in 2015! 


Arianna Arakaki

Resident of Black Sands subdivision is dedicated to the Hawaiian culture and to the land. She is a natural in the forest!


Will Stein

Volunteered on the weekly crew for over a year in 2021-22! He has an elaborate knowledge and passion for native plants.


Rain Pacifico

Volunteered on the weekly crew day for over a year in 2021-22;  a humble servant of the environment. 


Outreach Coordinator: 
Laura Luther

With an M.S. degree in Natural Resources & Environmental Management University of Hawai‘i- Mānoa, Honolulu), she has had extensive experience as a field biologist.  Laura is dedicated to conserving and protecting ecological systems for the health and wellbeing of current and future generations through outreach, education, monitoring and research. 

Outstanding Volunteers:


Masa Sumida
Born and raised in Hilo, Masa has been a successful business entrepreneur and is now happily retired. He is a most dedicated volunteer member who began with the launching of the Keau’ohana restoration efforts in 2015. As a volunteer, Masa now joins the weekly field crew, contributing much time to invasive species control and the consolidation of dead wood on our restoration site. Masa has been a strong supporter of the project on many levels and is a treasured member.
Read More about Masa…


James Elston
James has done digital animation and provided website design and support for small businesses for over 30 years. He has volunteered website support and has a new found appreciation for working in the forest navigating between the Dirt and the Digital. He is now engaged as an outreach coordinator.

And a Big Thank You to crew workers past:

Past Keau’ohana rainforest field technicians and other supporters who have contributed significantly to HER since 2014 include:

Jeff Stallman, Greg DiBenedetto, Nick Livigni, Philip Caporusso, Clive Cardozo, Patrick Wilson, Greg Cerrato, Spencer Willis, David Jones Palila, Trevor Keliihoomalu, Minoh Banks, Ale’alani Evangelista, Mina Viritua,  Stephanie Bostedt, Ashley Nemeth, Linda Larish, Chris Clever, Malina Fagan, Hilary Flaming, Kelly Collins, Jeremiah O’Brien.