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Hawaii Business names Hamabata as up-and-coming leader


Matt Hamabata, executive director of The Kohala Center, has been selected by Hawaii Business magazine as one of Hawaii’s next generation of movers and shakers.

Matt Hamabata

Hamabata is profiled in the magazine’s March issue, “20 For The Next 20,” as one of 20 up-and-coming leaders.

“Hawaii Business magazine was looking for up-and-coming leaders, people who will have a major impact on Hawaii over the next two decades. Matt Hamabata certainly belongs in that group,” said Editor Steve Petranik.

“I am truly honored and truly surprised by this award,” Hamabata said. “But I feel the honor should go to the residents and community leaders of Hawaii Island — all I am doing is listening first to the needs of island residents and then making sure that I listen to the guidance of island leaders about how to meet those needs. This award is a testament to the pragmatic, creative, optimistic, and ambitious people of Hawaii Island. They are leading, and I am following.”

The Kohala Center was founded with a mandate to create greater employment and educational opportunities by caring for and celebrating Hawaii Island’s spectacular natural and cultural landscape. Hamabata has guided the growth of the organization from its bare-bones founding in January 2001 to a $4.1 million organization in eight years.

Under his leadership, The Kohala Center has built local, regional, national and international partnerships that focus on global challenges in a locally relevant and internationally valuable way. The Center’s work in energy self-reliance, food self-reliance, and ecosystem health involve not only the County of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii but also institutions like the Edith Kanakaole Foundation, Yale, MIT, Tokyo’s Waseda University and Vienna’s Institute for Social Ecology, among many others.

Energy-related systems analysis and policy recommendations developed with The Kohala Center’s academic and local government partners are resulting in positive community and Hawaii County Council action, including adoption of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (March 2007 Edition as amended). The island nation of Bermuda contacted The Kohala Center to say that the 2007 Hawaii County Energy Sustainability Plan would serve as a model for its own work.

Committed to enhancing ecosystem health, Hamabata and The Kohala Center have partnered in the following ecosystem health projects:

* The Kohala Watershed Partnership and the Pelekane Bay Watershed Restoration Project;
* The Kahaluu Bay Project, master plan, citizen science program, and an ecosystem health research program, which involves the Center for Conservation Research and Training at UH-Manoa, the Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology, Redlands Institute, Stanford University, and Cornell University;
* Long-Term Industrial Ecosystem Model — Hawaii Island (LIEM-Hawaii) Project with the Hawaii County Department of Research and Development in collaboration with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Redlands Institute, the Institute for Advanced Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, and the Institute for Social Ecology in Vienna, Austria;
* Cornell-Hawaii Graduate Field Research Laboratory, involving Cornell University, the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Kipuka Native Hawaiian Student Center and the UHH program in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences. A UHH NSF Center for Research Excellence in Science Technology grant also provided funding.

Hamabata believes that flourishing minds mean flourishing communities. Given the knowledge-rich employment opportunities that The Center is creating, Hamabata insists island youth become qualified for careers in the new knowledge-based economy that The Center is helping to create.

Thus, The Center has become a strong supporter of K-12 educational programs, which annually reach more than 3,000 island students, including:

* The Hawaii Island School Garden Network;
* Hidden Jewels at Kohala Elementary School;
* Frameworks for Success in Science Project in the Hilo school complex;
* Hawaii Meaningful Outdoor Education and Science Program;
* Brown Environmental Leadership Laboratory in Hawaii and Rhode Island;
* Student Sustainability Conference at Hawaii Preparatory Academy;
* Summer youth program scholarships for Hawaii Island youth to study at Brown and Cornell in the fields of engineering and environmental studies.

Hamabata also believes that a knowledge-based economy needs kamaaina leadership to head Hawaii’s educational and research institutions. In an important effort to support the development of intellectual leadership from Hawaii for Hawaii and the world, Hamabata worked with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, and the Kahiau Foundation to establish the Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Native Hawaiian scholars.

Hamabata was born and raised in Hanapepe, Kauai, and is a graduate of Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu. He received his undergraduate degree at Cornell University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

He first taught at Yale University, served as the dean of Haverford College, and was the Director of Learning at the California Endowment. He is professor meritus at the Fielding Graduate University, a former Fulbright-Hays Fellow, and a recipient of the Literary Award of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

Hamabata received the Hookele Award in 2009 from the Hawaii Community Foundation and Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, which recognizes nonprofit leaders in Hawaii who are making a difference in our community.

To learn more about The Kohala Center programs, see

One Response to “Hawaii Business names Hamabata as up-and-coming leader”

  1. June yoshihiro says:

    Hello Matthew’s, I knew your brother, Mitchell. We dated for a short time back in the 1960’s. I wish I had gotten to know him more. I am sorry for his passing. If you receive this email. Pls. Respond, i would like to know more abt. Mitchell’s life. My cell is 808 7214752. Aloha


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