Meet the Specialists

Director of Natural Resources, Hualālai Resort

David has been restoring and maintaining the ponds at Ka‘ūpūlehu since 1990. He has a Master Degree in Geography, specializing in Coastal Ecology and Aquatic Resource Management. Initially brought on as a consultant twenty years ago, David has since built a remarkable natural filtration system, which preserves our ponds natural resources. He also received the notable Environmental Protection Agency award for his involvement in the Pūnāwai Lake here at Hualālai (macron over the second “a”) Resort located on the Ke’olu Golf Course and his contribution to Hawai’i Island oceanology has been widespread, consisting of student training programs and development of management plans for our coastal communities. David is part Hawaiian and a trained scientist, but what makes his work a specialized endeavor is the community-wide focus and culturally based sensibility he brings to it. The coastal waters at Ka‘ūpūlehu were once famous for moihe’e (octopus), and large gatherings of opelu (mackerel scad). These fisheries have been depleted by unrestricted fishing. To revive them, David has been working with cultural and community groups, conservation agencies, landowners and other resorts up and down the coast, conducting fish counts, replenishing fish stocks, restoring ponds, and developing an area-wide marine resource management plan.”We already provide a model for what can be done to manage marine resources in a traditional Hawaiian way,” says Chai. “There are a lot of places that want to do exactly what we’re doing, especially in development areas where you need to involve the community. People want to get started but they don’t know how. So we try and help out.”

Natural Resources, Supervisor

Being one with nature and its inhabitants is a necessary way of life for Nicky, born and raised on the island of Moloka‘i. She has a B.A. in Marine Science from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and a Master’s Degree in Education from Concordia University. Nicky has been involved in the Pacific Internship Program for exploring science and the Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center doing research. Her focus at Hualālai Resort centers around educational outreach, designing lesson plans for schools and arranging site visits to the property. She also assists teachers with hands-on science base activities, providing graduate and college students with access to use the Resort for science related projects or internships. Nicky continues to increase her knowledge as a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) as part of the National Association for Interpretation as well as a Competent Communicator of Toastmaster International. Nicky’s enthusiasm for animals and their habitats, makes her the ideal candidate to protect the wildlife here at the Resort and provide continued education to members, guests, and the community alike.

Natural Resources, Maintenance Specialist

Chris, who is part Hawaiian, follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, a lawai’a and mahi’ai (fisherman/farmer). Through the knowledge inherited by his local ancestry, Chris has cultivated a deep respect for the ‘āina (land) and the abundance of sea/farm to table nourishment it provides. His understanding of traditional Hawaiian methods include fishing and planting, based on the moon phases. He has passed down these techniques to his children, so they too can teach their kids the value of traditional Hawaiian practices when relating to our ecosystem. Chris believes that meaningful experiences are what help you make choices that direct your life’s path. “These choices will influence the future,” he says. Chris has been at Hualālai for over a decade. His focus is to maintain the ponds and the marine life that inhabit them. As a Natural Resource Specialist, he shares his knowledge with all who are interested.

Natural Resources, Marine Husbandry Specialist

Kelsey is originally from Southern California, and developed an affinity to marine life after a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium at a young age. This spark let her to the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, earning a B.A. in Marine Science. Kelsey has interned at the Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center, working with various marine life, narrowing her focus on sustainable aquaculture and the importance these studies have had on Hawaiian history. She has also cultivated marine organisms for food and training in husbandry. Kelsey has obtained a certificate in Veterinary Assisting, applying those skills with her car for the marine life here at the Resort. In her free time, Kelsey is taking in the blessings of being a new mom.

Natural Resources, Program Specialist

Madison grew up in Vancouver, Washington, where she developed a love for the ocean, frequently visiting the Oregon Coast. Furthering her dream to become a marine biologist, she graduated from Hawaii Pacific University on Oahu earning a BASc degree in Marine Sciences. During college and after, she worked at He‘eia Fish Pond, Waikiki Aquarium, and Hawaiian Marine Animal Response. Post-graduation, she volunteered at the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), helping to restore native coral reefs on Sand Island. Madison was very fortunate to be a part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel conducting a study North East of the Hawaiian Islands, gaining a better understanding of bigeye tuna fishery. Relocating to Kailua-Kona to work as a program specialist has enabled her to share her passions for marine life and the ocean with Resort guests, hoping they leave with a better understanding of the ocean and the natural world that surrounds us. Madison is an avid scuba diver and can often be found in and above the water, or walking her fur baby, Winston.

Natural Resources, Marine Naturalist

Andrea grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana surrounded by abundant marine life and the bayou. With a fascination with fish, she learned how to maintain coral reef aquaria for hobbyists and museums. To further her education, she moved to Hawai‘i Island to attend the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and received a B.S. in Marine Science, learning aquaculture techniques at Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center. She has also worked at a seahorse farm and coral education center. Now at the Resort, Andrea’s passion for coral restoration and marine life is shared with members and guests alike.

Natural Resources, Aquaculture Specialist

Jason was born in Toulouse, France but moved to Richmond, Virginia at a young age, where he developed a deep fascination for the ocean from fishing and exploring the Atlantic coast. This passion led him to earn his B.S. in Marine Fisheries Conservation from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Natural resource preservation, sustainability, and aquaculture have been at the forefront of Jason’s interests and career, working with the Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation (COTERC) at Caño Palma Biological Station, monitoring sea turtles on the remote shoreline of Costa Rica in an effort to protect endangered turtle species and their vital nesting habitat. He has also raised white sturgeon in Northern California, Eastern oysters in the Rappahannock River of Virginia, and Kanpachi off the coast of Hawai’i Island. Jason brings his wealth of knowledge in husbandry to Hualālai’s oyster culture program, pond maintenance, education, and fish rearing. When he isn’t working with marine life, you can find Jason surfing, diving, painting, and searching for new hikes to further his love of nature.

Looking to the Future

Hualālai Resort continues to strive for excellence by providing impeccable service with the spirit of aloha. As we look toward the future, our goal to to exceed all expectations with kind service and graciousness will be our foundation that our guests and community receive.