Profiles in Sustainability

The alumni profiled here have dedicated their lives to protecting and preserving our natural environment. From mauka to makai, they are tackling difficult issues like ocean pollution, preservation and protection of natural and cultural resources, local food production and renewable energy. They are passionate and committed to be part of the solution toward a greener, more sustainable planet.

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  • Aaron Ackerman '98

    Aaron Ackerman ’98 sits on the lanai of his Palolo home and enjoys the verdant canopy of trees that surrounds it, the sound of birds, the lack of neighbors and the ocean view of Waikiki. But from his jungled perch, he also looks out over his vegetated rooftop, rainwater cistern and private wastewater system. His home is one of the first residences in Hawai‘i built to exist entirely off the land.

  • Laura Edmunds '99 Kaakua

    As Academy students, Laura Edmunds ’99 Kaakua and Stephanie Chang ’99 Kopp were a two-woman rubbish cleanup crew. Together, they started a group called STOP, Students Taking Over Pollution, and picked up bags and bags of rubbish around the Hawaii Kai area.

  • Maui Tauotaha ’97

    Anchored Through Family

    “We made an unscheduled stop in Florida,” said Maui Tauotaha ’97, describing one of many stories from journeying with Hōkūle‘a. “Some of the locals there were watching the Google tracker, and before we even finished tying up to the dock, a man pulled up to us in a boat asking if we needed a place to stay for the night.” The man lent the crew his car, fed them, organized an impromptu pa‘ina and even housed half of them the few nights they were there.

  • Kahi Pacarro ’97

    Charles S. Judd Jr. ’38 Humanitarian Awardee

    Kahi Pacarro ’97 was invited to join a beach cleanup in Aotearoa and the experience left a lasting impression. Today, he is executive director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i, a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to caring for coastlines through fun, hands-on beach cleanups and educational outreach.

  • Luke Untermann ’10

    The story of Luke Untermann's new business Banan is a modern tale of surf, sustainability and social media. Nearing college graduation in 2014, Untermann ‘10 and friends Matt Hong ‘10, Zak Barry ‘10 and Galen McCreary ‘10 came together to brainstorm ideas for a new business. The foursome's eureka moment came as they were introduced to the classic, vegan, single-ingredient banana "nice cream" and the realization that they all hailed from a state that grows and sells a lot of bananas. It was homeward bound as they wrapped up college, summer travel and road trips.

  • Suzanne Case ’74

    The Curiosity Quotient

    When asked what drives her, Suzanne Case shares, “My great curiosity. I really enjoy digging into a topic and trying to understand what the challenge is and thinking through the path forward. It’s something I gained from my Punahou education. The great teachers didn’t just relay information, they embodied an appreciation for exploration.”These questioning and probing problem-solving skills will definitely play a critical role as Case takes on her biggest job yet in serving the public trust.

  • Kapua Kawelo ’91 and Hi‘ilei Kawelo ’95

    Sisters — From Mauka to Makai

    Big sister Kapua looks Hi‘ilei straight in the eyes and tells her, “You eat too much meat.” With a here-we-go-again look Hi‘ilei responds, “But I love my imported prosciutto.” In unison, they burst into laughter, which makes it obvious that this kind of playful banter is constant between these sisters.

  • Ulalia Woodside ’88

    Carrying on the Legacy

    Just a few weeks into her newly appointed position as executive director of The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i, Ulalia Woodside is busy figuring out where the office supplies are stored and claiming victory when the security code for the front door of the Conservancy’s downtown Honolulu headquarters works.

  • Brandon Hayashi ’93

    Energizing Solutions

    When Brandon Hayashi ’93 decided he wanted to be a part of the solution to the world’s energy crisis, it was a decision he stuck to against all odds.

  • Peter Vitousek '67


    In 2001, Time magazine recognized Hawai‘i's Peter Vitousek '67 as one of America's best scientists, praising him for "tending to the planet's health" through his cutting-edge work on ecosystems and the nitrogen cycle.

  • Mary McEldowney '40 Evanson

    Mary's Haleakala

    Mary McEldowney '40 Evanson first saw Haleakala crater in the 1930s when she was a teenager. The road to the top of the crater had just been completed, and Mary remembers spending a very cold night in the old Kalahaku rest house.