Case presented certificate from Hawai‘i Senate in honor of her service as DLNR chairwoman
This story was updated at 4:20 p.m. Dec. 9.
State Sen. Lorraine Inouye, who leads the state Senate’s Land and Water Committee, said Friday that it’s unusual when the Hawai‘i Senate honors an outgoing state department chief. But for someone with a track record like that of Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case, the recognition is more than appropriate.
Case completes her second term as head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and also chairwoman of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources at the end of this year. Much of her leadership team and Inouye surprised her Friday when they walked in as she prepared for her final meeting as leader of the state Land Board in Honolulu.
Inouye presented Case with a large framed certificate during the board meeting after detailing a long list of accomplishments, board service and awards throughout Case’s nearly eight years as the department’s leader. Case is term-limited, having served two consecutive terms in both of her capacities. Her last day is Dec. 31.
She will leave behind a legacy of tremendous accomplishments in the protection and preservation of natural and cultural resources throughout the state. Inouye said Case focused on good government, transparency and inclusion, providing leadership for watershed protection initiatives, marine management, bio-security, food security and renewable energy.
“It was important to me that we officially recognize the service and leadership of Chair Case and the impact she’s had as head of the [Department of Land and Natural Resources],” Inouye said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “Over the years, she led the department with integrity and transparency, and helped to implement initiatives such as watershed protection, marine management, biosecurity, food security and renewable energy. The important work that she did as a protector of our precious island resources will be felt for years to come.”
Friday was an emotional day for Case as she led her final Land Board meeting.
“This is a great honor and I’ve so appreciated working with you (Sen. Inouye) and all the members of the Senate and of the Legislature,” she said after receiving the certificate from Inouye. “I’m so happy our team has been so successful in working with the Senate and the House. It only works right when we can all talk to each other, respectfully disagree when we disagree, work hard and try to work out any differences.”
Case, who was born in Hilo and grew up on the Big Island and O‘ahu, was appointed in April 2015 by then-Gov. David Ige as chairwoman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. She was reappointed for a second term in December 2018.
Case is also chairwoman of the State Commission on Water Resource Management, co-chairperson of the Governor’s Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative and served on the Hawai‘i Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Commission, Hawai‘i Invasive Species Committee and Hawai‘i Drought Council. She also was a member of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture and the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission.
As leader of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, she oversees 11 divisions and four offices with a combined staff of nearly 1,000 people and a budget of $159 million. She directs divisions that steward everything to do with natural and cultural resources in the islands, from forestry and wildlife, coastal regulation and water resources to historic preservation, boating and ocean recreation, conservation enforcement and state parks.
For 28 years prior to joining the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Case served in leadership positions with The Nature Conservancy, including as Hawai‘i Program executive director from 2001 to 2015. During her tenure, she implemented dozens of initiatives in many Western U.S. states and around the Pacific.
“The Hawai‘i State Senate recognizes and commends Chair Suzanne R. Case for her commitment to enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawai‘i’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawai‘i nei, and its visitors, in partnership with others from the public and private sectors,” says the certificate Inouye presented to Case on Friday. “With deepest respect and gratitude, we extend our warmest aloha and best wishes on your next journey.”