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Emerson Kihei Nahale-a Appointed Sustainability Educational Program Manager

Dr. David Bybee, director of the Brigham Young University–Hawaii Kumuwaiwai Center for Sustainability, has named Emerson Kīhei Nahale-a as the new sustainability and education program manager for the Kumuwaiwai Center for Sustainability.

This is a newly created position that will be responsible for educational programming, aligns internships with curriculum, coordinates projects and labs, manages the center’s ahupua’a resources, and serves as the point person for logistics and operations of the center’s land/ocean programs.

"I am excited to have Kīhei join the Kumuwaiwai Center for Sustainability," said Bybee. "He brings with him years of experience and local knowledge that will help the center move forward in several important ways."

Portrait of Emerson Kīhei Nahale-a
Photo by Monique Saenz

Nahale-a has worked in Hawaiian culture and ʻāina-based education for over 25 years. In the last 10 years, he has been developing collaborative community-based initiatives that create positive, sustainable impacts for the ʻāina and its people. "My goal is to follow in my kupuna’s footsteps," said Nahale-a, "and help to develop and maintain what is good about Hawaiʻi for my keiki, ʻohana, and beloved Hawaiʻi."

Nahale-a is coming to BYU–Hawaii from Windward Community College, where he was the ahupuaʻa studies coordinator and co-project manager of Kawaiola, a Native Hawaiian success grant which encouraged academic success through Hawaiian land management studies. Nahale-a began his role as sustainability and education program manager on Tuesday, August 16.

Nahale-a graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo with his Bachelor of Arts in Hawaiian studies. In Hilo, Nahale-a was the Hawaiian Lifestyles Mahiʻai Track director for Hawaiʻi Community College. After moving to Oahu, he became the director of the Huliāmahi Education Alliance for three non-profits in Heʻeia. He is also the co-creator of Project KULEANA, a native Hawaiian well-being project that explores the concept of kuleana through Hawaiian music production.

Originally from Hilo on the island of Hawaii, Nahale-a moved to Koʻolauloa in 2002. He enjoys playing Hawaiian music, has two children, and resides in the ahupuaʻa of Keana with his children and his kōkoʻolua aloha (loving companion), Noheahiwahiwa.

The Kumuwaiwai Center for Sustainability was established in 2021 to "conduct research, educate and apply sustainable principles and practices to prepare future leaders of society, industry, government, and academia in the Asia‐Pacific Region" (Kumuwaiwai Center for Sustainability Mission Statement).