Malia Akutagawa was born and raised on Molokai and is President and Founder of Sust ʻāina ble Molokai. She is an attorney and Assistant Professor of Law with both the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law and Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge. Malia is a 1997 alumnus of the William S. Richardson School of Law, having earned a Juris Doctor and Environmental Law Certificate. Her focal studies included Hawaiian and water rights, environmental regulations, land use, and administrative law. She is part of Hui ʻĀina Momona, a consortium of scholars throughout the university community charged with addressing compelling issues of indigenous Hawaiian knowledge and practices, including the legal regime and Native Hawaiian rights associated with mālama ʻāina (caring for the land), and with focus on cross-disciplinary solutions to natural and cultural resource management, sustainability, and food security. Before joining the law school and Hawaiʻinuiākea faculty, Malia was the Director of the Molokai Rural Development Project for 9 years. She led training and education initiatives through the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College - Molokai and partnered with a number of community organizations to strengthen the capacity of the workforce and local economy.
Walter Ritte is a well-known Hawaiian Rights Activist who lives on Molokai. He is an educator, homesteader and avid hunter. He manages a fishpond restoration project on the east end of Molokai. Walter is dedicated to using permaculture as a sustainable practice to restore land and revive the agricultural abundance that once flourished throughout the islands. He is the founder of Label It Hawaii, a grassroots organization dedicated to working towards legislation that will mandate companies to disclose any genetically altered ingredients in their food products.
Mercy Ritte was raised on Molokai and is a mother of two children. In 2012 she started Molokai Mom On a Mission (Molokai MOM) to raise community awareness on the potential harmful effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) including experimental seeds grown on Molokai, pesticide exposure, and GMOs found in our food supply. Then in 2013 she formed The MOM Hui, a grassroots group of moms on a mission to address concerns surrounding issues such as GMOs, that may harmfully affect the health & well being of their children, families, and island. "What we love, we will protect!" is their motto. Mercy’s organizing efforts have influenced mothers throughout the state of Hawaii to also form The MOM Hui in their community. There are now chapters of The MOM Hui on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and Hawai'i Island. In addition to advocating for children's health and empowering mothers & women, Mercy and her family use permaculture techniques to grow food on their homestead. She is enjoys cooking vegetarian meals and has published several articles featuring GMO free recipes. Mercy has also studied at the University of Hawaii at Hilo distant learning program and will earn a BA degree in Psychology this summer 2013.
Hunter Heaivilin envisions a future where communities are self-reliant for their needs and interdependent for their wants. He has been working locally with school campuses around Oahu on projects ranging from food production to water harvesting and waste management. His work in Permaculture has led him to consulting and teaching with sustainable community development projects around the Pacific, Caribbean, and South America, with a preference for small island developing states. International projects have run the gamut from disaster recovery to food security and public health. Hunter is an accomplished Permaculturist and a well-organized instructor with a host of experiences to draw upon in his teaching.
A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School, Paul Achitoff has been an attorney for thirty years, the last twenty with Earthjustice, a national, nonprofit environmental law firm, in its Hawai‘i office. Paul’s litigation work has included protecting endangered species, restoring streams, defending Native Hawaiian cultural practices, curbing pollution, and for the past decade, challenging government approvals of genetically engineered crops and other organisms. Paul has also been active at the Hawai‘i State legislature pushing for laws to protect human health and the environment, such as those requiring that genetically engineered products be labeled.
Geoff Lawton is a permaculture consultant, designer and teacher. Since 1995 he has specialized in permaculture education, design, implementation, system establishment, administration and community development. Lawton's aim is to establish self-replicating educational demonstration sites. He has currently educated over 6,000 students in permaculture worldwide. Lawton's 'master plan' is to see aid projects being replicated as fast as possible to help ameliorate the growing food and water crisis.