Governor Nominates Kaua‘i Real Estate Leader to Serve on State BLNR
A leader in Kaua‘i real estate is among several people from throughout the state picked by Gov. David Ige to serve on the Hawai’i Board of Land and Natural Resources.
Karen Ono was the long-time association executive for the Kaua‘i Board of REALTORS until last year, serving as the organizations chief executive from April 1979 to December 2021. She was a government affairs committee member for the association from January 2018 to December 2021 and served as the representative for the Chamber of Commerce, the Kaua‘i Business Council and the Rice Street Business Association.
Ono has an associate’s degree from Kaua‘i Community College and was nominated by Ige to represent the Garden Isle on the BLNR.
Ono is one of five people tapped to take a seat at the BLNR table. The other four people nominated by Ige include a Big Island engineer, a cultural museum vice president, a climate change small business owner and an active Maui volunteer.
“These five individuals have demonstrated track records of leadership and performance in a variety of fields and settings,” said Ige in the news release. “Most importantly, they each have an overarching love and respect for the natural and cultural uniqueness of Hawai‘i.”
Smith previously led the construction of the sub-marine fiber optic network that connects the five major Hawaiian Islands. He has an extensive work history dating back to 1976 and has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Na Ala Hele Advisory Council.
Smith is a Kamehameha Schools graduate and has a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Southern California and a master’s of business administration from the University of Hawai‘i.
The other nominees are:
- Riley Smith is nominated to represent Hawai‘i Island. He has been president and chief executive officer at Lanihau Properties LLC in Kailua Kona since January 2013. He’s been in leadership roles with the company since 2009. He previously led the construction of the sub-marine fiber optic network that connects the five major Hawaiian Islands. He has an extensive work history dating back to 1976 and has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Na Ala Hele Advisory Council. Smith is a Kamehameha Schools graduate, and has a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Southern California and a master’s of business administration from the University of Hawai‘i.
- Wesley “Kaiwi” Yoon has served on the state Land Board since 2019 and is being nominated for a second term as an at-large representative. His current term ends June 30. Yoon is vice president of operations, planning and project management at Bishop Museum. He worked at the state Department of Land and Natural Resources from 2015-18 and served two terms on the Legacy Land Conservation Commission from 2007-14. He is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
- Doreen Canto has represented Maui on the Land Board on an interim basis since July 2021. A Native Hawaiian, she has served on numerous community organizations and government advisory boards. She served as the Maui commissioner for the Hawaiian Homelands Commission from 2014-17 and was chairperson of the Maui Police Commission from 2005-10. Canto is a Baldwin High School graduate and has an associate’s degree from the University of Phoenix. She currently works at Maui Grown Therapies.
- Aimee Keli‘i Barnes has represented the City and County of Honolulu on the Land Board on an interim basis since January. She is the principal of Hua Nani Partners, a small woman-owned consulting firm that provides policy and strategic advice to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, focusing on climate change. She has worked on environmental issues for 20 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in environmental science and policy from Columbia University.
All five nominations are subject to confirmation by the state Senate.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources has seven members — one from each district and two at-large members. The board chairperson is also the executive of the DLNR. The board meets twice each month to act on departmental submittals, including land leases and conservation district applications.