The 2013 Fellows

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Alexandra (Alix) Buchter

While earning a degree in sociology/social psychology in 2005 from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Buchter founded an organization for young women dedicated to cultivating social responsibility, which continues to grow and flourish. Her passion for arts and entertainment led her to a startup internet and promotions company where, as one of the principles, she worked to develop a community-based social networking platform. In 2007 she moved to Maui, where her love of the arts led her to Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center, where she worked on numerous projects including the center’s annual Wailea Food and Wine Celebration and Art Affair. As technical projects manager, she modernized the Hui’s technology through overseeing the networking and hardware upgrades, launching the organization’s e-marketing campaign and setting up the Point-of-Sale (POS) system. Buchter joined Maui No Ka ‘Oi magazine in 2008, bringing to the company an extensive background in new media technologies. In 2009, she revamped Maui No Ka ‘Oi’s website and quadrupled its online traffic. In addition to launching the digital version of the magazine and an iOS app, she also established a partnership with SilverShark Media to create the popular “Making Over Maui” video series that features original, community-centered web videos and the bi-weekly “Extra Ingredients” web series that offers cooking demonstrations by top Maui chefs. On behalf of Maui No Ka ‘Oi, Buchter has contributed to several projects benefiting Maui County including the Maui Electric Vehicles Alliance, the “Got Choice? Think Local” campaign, and spearheaded the Maui County Green Book.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Malia Cahill

Malia grew up Hana, Kula, and Ulupalakua. Malia studied at both Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon where she received her B.A. In Environmental Studies, and at University of Hawaiʻi where she received an A.S.C. in Hawaiian Studies. After college, Malia returned home to Maui working in environmental education and variety of other jobs. She also traveled internationally whenever possible, visiting over 20 different countries. In 2010, Malia founded Maui Huliau Foundation, an environmental education non-profit dedicated to promoting environmental leadership among Maui’s youth. She now serves as their Executive Director and Program Manager for their three youth programs. Malia enjoys traveling, film-making, volunteering, surfing, hiking and all things outdoors. Malia is passionate about working to protect Maui’s unique environment, and about involving Maui’s youth in this work in fun and creative ways.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Audrey Chihara

I grew up under the hot Lahaina sun and graduated from Lahainaluna in 2004. To cool off, I attended school in the northeast and obtained two bachelors degrees in Math/Chemistry/Physics and Environmental Engineering from Providence College and Columbia University, respectively. I immensely enjoyed my time away at school and couldn’t have asked for a better experience, but I always knew that I wanted to return to Maui to live and work. After graduating college, I did return to Lahaina and am employed by Brown and Caldwell, a nationwide Environmental Engineering Consulting company that has an office in Wailuku. My work there focuses on wastewater treatment planning and design, water recycling, and natural systems. When I am not working, you can usually find me pursuing that exercise-induced endorphin high. Running and yoga help me keep my mind clear and body healthy. Besides that, my other favorite activity is of course spending time with my family and friends, because they are the ones who truly make Maui special and my home.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Pualani Enos, J.D.

Pualani Enos is the Executive Director of Hui Malama Learning Center which provides Middle School, High School and GED programs addressing the whole person and emphasizing health and well-being, literacy and numeracy across learning. She has worked closely with her board and staff to develop and integrate a school-community garden, and whole foods nutrition program throughout the middle and high school programs. She is a member of the Non-profit Directors Association, Board Vice-President of Hawai‘i Youth Services Network. In 2005, Pualani was the Program Director for Hale ‘Ohana at the Neighborhood Place of Wailuku. Prior to this position, she worked as Research Faculty at University of Hawai‘i Manoa School of Social Work as the Evaluation Coordinator for the Ke Ala Lokahi project, a culturally-based intervention for Hawaiian batterers and survivors of intimate partner violence at Turning Point For Families in Hilo, Hawai‘i. She also taught Women’s Studies as a lecturer for University of Hawai‘i Outreach College on Maui. Prior to moving to Hawai‘i, Pualani spent seven years working as a Clinical Professor at Northeastern University School of Law’s Domestic Violence Institute (DVI) where she directed several experiential learning and interdisciplinary research programs and participated in several community-based service collaborations. Pualani and her family are members of Halau Na Hanona Kulike ‘O Pi‘ilani and Lae ‘ula O Kai Canoe Club. Pualani graduated with a B.A. from Skidmore College in 1992 and a J.D. from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1995.
Pualani is passionate about preparing youth to be positive, competent and reliable workers who actively contribute to Maui’s economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being. She believes that food — where and how it is grown, how and with whom food is prepared, prepare it, and how we take care of the natural resources that make it all possible — is a critical component to ensuring social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability for Maui.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Megan Haertling

Megan Haertling grew up in Boulder Colorado on the front range of the Colorado Rockies. After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Megan accepted a position with Sterling-Rice Group, an award-winning advertising, and brand innovation firm. For the next several years, Megan contributed to the growth of both local and national brands and non-profit organizations through advertising, brand development, and communication strategies. After honeymooning on Maui, the self-proclaimed “mountain girl,” fell in love with the ocean and within four months moved to the island with her new husband and Jack Russell Terrier, Lily. On Maui, Megan worked as the Director of Marketing for Pacific Whale Foundation for less than a year before being hired as the Director of Public Relations for The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui. Megan is responsible for promoting the luxury resort and works closely with Maui Visitor’s and Convention Bureau. With a personal and professional commitment to environmental and Hawaiian cultural initiatives, Megan is a member of the hotel’s Green Team and Cultural Committee and has supported The Fairmont Kea Lani’s partnership with the Coral Reef Alliance, Maui Culinary Academy and the Institute of Hawaiian Music.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Pomaika‘i Kaniaupio-Crozier

Pomaika‘i Kaniaupio-Crozier is the Conservation Manager for the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve & Ma Kai Conservation Areas for Maui Land & Pineapple Co., Inc. where he provides oversight of ML&P’s conservation and preservations initiatives. Pomaika‘i’s in-depth knowledge of ahupua‘a restoration is crucial as he is charged with management of the areas where he often finds himself in remote areas on the Summit of Pu‘u Kukui on Mauna Kahalawai to the Marine life conservation district down at Honolua Bay. Pomaika’i was born and raised in Makakilo, O’ahu and is a graduate of Saint Louis High School. He later received his Bachelor of Arts as the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa in 1994 as the first double major in Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian Studies with a concentration in Natural Environment. Fluent in the Hawaiian language Pomaikai’i has learned a tremendous amount of hidden cultural knowledge from Kupuna that he strives to share with others. For over 15 years, he has supported ahupua‘a and traditional resource management and restoration projects in various capacities. Some of those efforts include preserving Hawaiian taro varieties, lo‘i restoration throughout the state of Hawai‘i, fishpond restoration, assisting in the development of Hawaiian education in various public and private schools including the University of Hawai‘i, and reconstructing the last remnant traditional hale in the Bishop Museum. After moving to Maui in 2004, Pomaika‘i has taught and assisted in the development of the Malama Ahupua‘a course at UHMC, served as the Project Manager for Maui Economic Opportunity’s Ke Kahua Project and has become a cultural community leader in Wai‘ehu and for Mauna Kahalawai. Pomaika‘i’s passion towards malama ‘aina is evident as he is often found in the community sharing the ‘ike that has been passed down to him from Kupuna. Pomaika‘i is a deacon at Ekalesia o Kupaianaha Church in Wailuku and strives to share and steward all the blessings that Ke Akua has provided for us. He gives much praise to Ke Akua for the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that has been shared with him and for the natural wonders that he has been allowed to experience. He is most proud of his ‘ohana and the love of his keiki which motivates him to preserve this unique gift of Hawai‘i from the Lord for their future.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Cheryl King

Cheryl graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in biology/psychology (focusing on marine mammal behavior) from Southampton College of Long Island University (NY) and has a Master’s of Science in marine biology from Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center (FL). She is currently the Vice President of Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, and along with working on other HWF projects has been the Research Coordinator for HWF’s Hawksbill Sea Turtle Recovery Project since 2000. She researched and mitigated human use impacts from Keone‘o‘io to the ‘Ahihi Kina‘u Natural Area Reserve for over three years, worked with the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission’s Ocean Resources Management Program for ten years, studied Hawaiian monk seals in the French Frigate Shoals (Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument), and conducted a marine debris study during a runway restoration project at Palmyra Atoll (Line Islands), so has gained valuable conservation experience in some of the Pacific’s most unique and pristine ecosystems. Although Cheryl is interested in everything ocean-related, she specializes in Hawaiian endangered species research, rescue, and management and has a deep passion for ocean conservation, especially the impacts of marine debris. She created to help spread the message about plastic pollution’s impacts on marine animals and in turn, us. She certainly recognizes the endless amount of environmental challenges that Maui Nui faces, but somehow still believes that hard work, true dedication, and a lead-by-example lifestyle will inspire positive change, even if it is at a turtle’s pace… Slow and steady still wins the race!

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Mark Leuffgen

After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in Environmental Science and another in Geography, I needed to find a job. Upon the recommendation of a friend, I bought a plane ticket to Maui, packed up a backpack and my mountain bike and moved. It’s been sixteen years since I boarded that plane, and not a day goes by that I don’t feel blessed for stumbling upon one of the most amazing places in the world. In the beginning, my new life on Maui was all about exploring the island, both above and below the water. Eventually, my love of being underwater transitioned from a hobby to a career as a scuba instructor and boat captain. There’s nothing better than watching the sunrise from a boat and stepping into the unknown daily. Encounters with different kinds of marine life, ranging from nudibranchs to whale sharks, are still some of my fondest memories of the island. But, after being waterlogged for eleven years, it was time for a change. Construction was booming and with the help of some friends, I found myself beginning an electrical apprenticeship. After a year of wiring affordable homes, I was offered a job in alternative energy installing photovoltaic solar systems. Four years later, I’ve obtained my electrical journeyman license and have installed over a megawatt of solar power on five islands. I’m currently the lead installer and safety coordinator for Haleakala Solar, one of the biggest and best solar companies in Hawai‘i. It gives me great satisfaction to be helping the island increase their use of renewable energy one panel at a time. In my spare time I enjoy exploring the island with my family and rediscovering its beauty through my children’s eyes.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Ashley Lindsey

Ashley was raised in Upcountry, Maui and educated at Seabury Hall, Hawai‘i Pacific University, Maui Community College, Hawai‘i Community College and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. She has direct multi-generational ties connecting her to the land, culture, and history of these islands which has manifested itself in a lifelong love of all things Hawaiian. The experiences she received working and growing up in a family with extensive business interests in land redevelopment and its uses have extended into Real Estate and Restaurant Management. Ashley has a deep appreciation and love for Maui and enjoys learning, food, family and good friends.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Christopher M. Lovvorn

Mr. Lovvorn is the Vice President of Renewable Energy and Lana‘i Operations for Castle & Cooke Hawai‘i, and has been with the Company and lived on Lana‘i for over eight years. Castle & Cooke’s Renewable Energy team is responsible for the Company’s renewable energy projects on Lana‘i which included La Ola, Hawaii’s largest solar farm at 1.5 megawatts, and the development of a 400-megawatt wind farm. Prior to joining Castle & Cooke in 2004, Mr. Lovvorn worked as a Certified Public Accountant in Hawai‘i and on the mainland. Mr. Lovvorn has extensive experience and background in finance and the utility, hospitality, insurance, and construction industries. Chris holds three degrees from the University of Kansas including a Master’s degree in Accounting and Information Systems. Mr. Lovvorn currently serves the Lana‘i community as the Director of the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program serving Lanai’s low-income families and senior population and as the Founder and Executive Director of TriLanai LLC, a not for profit business that supports charitable organizations on Lana‘i.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Peter Niess

Peter is a partner at Maui Architectural Group, Inc. in Wailuku. As an AIA member and a project manager, Peter is responsible for spearheading a variety of commercial and residential projects. By integrating green building principles in all of his designs, Peter helps clients create better, longer lasting, more efficient buildings. Prior to his career at Maui Architectural Group, he worked at KRAI on Coronado Island while getting his Master of Architecture degree at New School of Architecture in San Diego. Born and raised in Haiku, Maui, Peter earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Planning at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Arizona State University. Peter serves on several boards including Maui Young Business Roundtable, Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Voyaging Society and is an active member of the American Institute of Architects as well as a Civilian Emergency Response Team member.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Sarah Ruppenthal

Ten years ago, Sarah Ruppenthal purchased a one-way ticket to Maui and waved goodbye to the misty metropolis of Seattle, Washington, eager to start a new chapter in her life—and looking forward to some much-needed Vitamin D. Upon receiving her M.A. in Communication (with a focus on professional writing) from Hawai‘i Pacific University in 2007, she quickly discovered that it pays to be a wordsmith in paradise, as there seems to be no shortage of fascinating people, places and things to write about here. Today, Sarah wields her red pen (gently) as a contract copywriter and editor, and also works as a freelance journalist and contributing writer for a number of regional publications. In addition to her love of writing, Sarah has developed an unyielding passion for higher education. She is currently a full-time lecturer at University of Hawai‘i Maui College, where she teaches courses in English and Humanities. When she’s not grading papers or hunched over her laptop writing, Sarah is relaxing at home in Pä‘ia with her husband, Mysto Matt, and 135-pound “puppy,” Odie.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Hanna Mounce, PhD.

Hanna Mounce manages Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, an organization focused on the recovery and preventing further extinction of Maui’s avifauna through well-planned research and management. She has been working with this organization since 2006 when she first came to Maui as a conservation field technician. Current focus projects include bird recovery, translocations, and landscape-level mosquito control. Through this work, she has gotten to experience some of most pristine forest environments in Hawai‘i which only heightens her motivation to preserve and restore them. She has a B.S. Honors degree from Humboldt State in Wildlife, completing one year of study at Lincoln University in New Zealand, and has worked across the US and Central America before coming to Hawai‘i. Hanna completed her doctorate in Biodiversity Conservation at the University of Kent, UK, working on the conservation
genetics of the most critically endangered bird on Maui, the kiwikiu (a.k.a. Maui Parrotbill). Hanna lives in Pukalani with her husband and two kids.

Bio and headshot updated 3/13/2024


2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Michael Lawrence Quisenberry

Michael Lawrence Quisenberry has been member of the Maui community for 20 years. Michael was born on Maui and attended Montessori, Makawao school, and Seabury Hall. After graduating in 2000, Michael went on to San Diego State where he graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. During his time in college, he also attended Semester at Sea which is a study abroad program that took him through 10 countries and circumnavigated the earth. As a boy from isolated Maui, his eyes were opened up to global living conditions and he gained an understanding of how fortunate we really to be members of the Maui community. After graduating college and seeing more of the continental US, Michael returned to Hawai‘i and moved to Honolulu. He took a job there with the University of Hawai‘i Sea Level Center. Michael assisted in maintaining an international network of sea level monitoring stations. He traveled to islands in the Indian Ocean, Africa, and remote islands in the Pacific including the north-west Hawaiian Islands. Michael learned about working under tight schedules and completing tasks independently with minimal supervision. Michael then decided to move into an industry he felt more passionately about, energy. Michael took up a job with The Gas Company as their Strategic Initiative Analyst working closely with the CEO and senior management of the company. Michael gained an extensive understanding of the existing energy infrastructures and systems that support modern life in Hawai‘i. He also participated in furthering the companies renewable energy projects and evaluating gas pricing competitiveness. Michael studied and passed a certification program which allows him to be named a “Certified Energy Manager” while with The Gas Company. Since then, Michael decided to move back to Maui to build a home in Haiku and see what living on Maui would be like. He also started his own energy consulting business called MLQ Energy LLC which provides energy consulting services to clients interested in reducing energy consumption while maximizing financial returns through equipment retrofits. He also sells an electric metering product that compliments energy conservation and management called the eGauge. Now Michael is looking to give back to Maui and help the community with skills learned while living away from Maui. He deeply believes that we are all capable of creating our best lives and getting exactly what we want in life and the biggest hurdles to conquer our internal beliefs and doubts. In the same light, we are all capable of creating the best Maui possible for everyone living here and attending Ka Ipu Kukui the next step in doing so.

2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Max Tornai

Max Tornai is the executive director for Mediation Services of Maui, a nonprofit in Wailuku established to aid the Maui community to prevent/resolve conflict and help settle lawsuits out of court. Max began working with the agency’s youth program in early 2009 and became executive director in early 2010. Max has also been on the board of directors for the Maui Non-Profit Directors Association since January 2011, an agency that supports the leaders of nonprofit agencies working in Maui. Through MNPD, Max regularly co-hosts the weekly radio show “Maui Non-Profit Notes”, which gives its member agencies an opportunity to discuss the work they are doing to improve our island home and promote their programs and events. Before settling in Maui in 2008, Max lived and worked in Boston Massachusetts, Steamboat Springs Colorado, Freiburg Germany, and Vancouver Canada. Max currently lives in Makawao on a small organic farm where he’s learning sustainable organic gardening practices. He enjoys mountain biking, tennis, SCUBA, surfing, skiing, among many other outdoor activities.

Headshot updated 3/13/2024


2013 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow

Sam Young

Sam Young was born and raised on Maui, Hawai‘i. He graduated in 2007, from the University of Montana with a degree in anthropology. He is currently an archaeologist here on Maui working on the development of the airport/industrial park near the newly constructed Costco Gas Station. Sam is also in the research and development stage of starting an innovated brewpub somewhere on the north shore of Maui. When he’s not brewing up a batch you’ll find Sam either surfing or tramping around on a crazy adventure!

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Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows

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Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows
153 E Kamehameha Ave
Ste 104-203
Kahului, HI 96732