The Kohala Center Appoints New President, CEO

January 13, 2015, 12:52 PM HST
* Updated January 13, 12:53 PM
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Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Ph.D. has been appointed as The Kohala Center’s next president and chief executive officer. According to a release issued Tuesday by the Center, Matthews Hamabata, Ph.D., current serving president and CEO of The Kohala Center, will retire after founding the organization in 2000.

Beamer, a resident of Waimea, will begin his role part-time beginning March 1 and full-time beginning on July 1. Among his credentials, Beamer is a geographer, historian, author, and public servant. He first began efforts with The Kohala Center as a postdoctoral fellow in the Center’s inaugural cohort of the Mellon-Hawai’i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in 2008-2009. He currently serves as a mentor to one of the program’s current postdoctoral fellows and will be leaving his current position as a member of the faculty at the Hui ‘Aina Momona Program at the University of Hawai’i and Manoa, with a joint appointment in the Richardson School of Law and the Hawai’inuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge.

“Kamana Beamer has demonstrated leadership and ability in every single endeavor he has pursued,” said Dr. Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwi’ole Osorio of the Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH-Manoa. “His leadership is thoughtful and always well-researched, his teaching both passionate and grounded and his program leadership has made him a valuable asset at Kamehameha and Manoa. His leadership at The Kohala Center will continue the remarkable record of growth and achievement left by Matt Hamabata.”

Current president and CEO Hamabata will serve as a consultant to Beamer, aiding in the oversight of select projects, including the development of the Center’s future campus on Kohala Mountain.

“I feel that the values and goals of the Kohala Center are closely aligned with my own ethics and aspirations,” Beamer said. “I was born and raised in rural Hawai’i. I know that there is much that our lifestyle and aloha can provide to others. There is a pressing need to provide sustainable economic alternatives for these communities, for Hawai’i, and for the world. The Kohala Center has built amazing programs, fostered powerful relationships, and had the courage to remain independent while becoming a leader in strengthening the rural, agricultural, and knowledge economies of Hawai’i.”


The Kohala Center began in 2000 with an operating budget of $7,500 and no employees. The Center has grown in the past 15 years, now working with an operating budget of $3.9 million, $3.7 million in net assets, and 23 full-time positions and 15 part-time employees, with the focus of land-based programs for community well-being in the areas of energy self-reliance, food self-reliance, and ecosystem health.


“For those who know Dr. Beamer, we cannot help but be impressed by his personal integrity, his enormous intelligence, his service to the community, his ability to build bridges, his ease of movement across cultures, his musicality, and his sincere commitment to the values of aloha ‘aina,” Hamabata said of Beamer.

Hamabata continued, “In my mind, Kamana represents Hawai’i’s future. We look forward to working toward that future under his guidance and leadership.”

Currently, the Center’s programs include Hawai’i Island School Garden Network, Hawai’i Public Seed Initiative, Rural and Cooperative Business Development Services, Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program, Kahalu’u Bay Education Center, and Kohala Watershed Partnership.


Additionally, in efforts to ensure that island residents have the qualifications for knowledge-rich jobs that the Center is helping to create in rural Hawai’i, The Kohala Center serves more than 8,300 children every year through programs in environmental education, science, engineering, and mathematics.

“The Kohala Center has made an excellent choice in its selection of Dr. Kamana Beamer as it next president and CEO,” said United State Senator Brian Schatz. “The Center has proven itself as an independent, rigorous, and creative leader in the development of programs for the well-being of Hawai’i’s communities. Given Dr. Beamer’s leadership and his steadfast devotion to education, Hawaiian culture, and the environment, I am confident he will move The Center forward in its all-important mission.”

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