Gov. Ige Nominates Three to BLNR

October 15, 2019, 5:00 PM HST (Updated October 15, 2019, 4:39 PM)
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Gov. David Ige. Courtesy photo

Governor David Ige on Monday announced three nominations for the Board of Land and Natural Resources. All three nominations are subject to confirmation by the Senate.

“These nominees represent a balanced and broad spectrum of experience and bring diverse points of view to the Land Board,” Ige said. “All share a passion for Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural resources, and I know they will listen to the community as they make decisions that will move us toward a more resilient and sustainable future.”

Vernon Char is appointed to an at-large seat replacing Keith “Keone” Downing who left the board on April 29, 2019. Char’s term will end on June 30, 2021.

Char is a practicing attorney with the law firm of Char Sakamoto Ishii Lum & Ching. He initially worked in the Office of the Attorney General in charge of the Anti-Trust and Consumer Protection Division. Active in Bar Association matters, he was president of the Hawai‘i Bar Association and served a three-year term on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association.

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He has also served on various state agencies during his career. He was a member of the Board of the Department of Land and Natural Resources in 2014-15. He has also served on other state boards including the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority and the Hawaiʻi State Ethics Commissions. He helped found the University of Hawaiʻi Alumni Association and served as its president in 1989. He received the association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1992. His current interests include participating in Mānoa Forum programs.

Char earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Hawaiʻi and law degree from Harvard Law School.

Char is married to Evelyn Lau, a fellow graduate of the University of Hawaʻi. They have five children. Three are attorneys and two are physicians.

“I recognize the important and diverse responsibilities of the Department of Land and Natural Resources to the community and look forward to again serving on the Board,” said Char.

Wesley “Kaiwi” Yoon is appointed to an at-large seat filling the at-large seat of Chris Yuen whose term began on July 1, 2018. Yoon’s term will end on June 30, 2022.

Yoon is the vice president of operations, planning and project management at the Bishop Museum. Yoon’s responsibilities include managing the daily operations of the museum’s 14-acre campus and working closely with the president and CEO, and the senior management team to lead planning initiatives and implement program management processes throughout the institution. Prior to his current position, Yoon worked for the State Department of Land and Natural Resources from 2015-18 and served two terms on the Legacy Land Conservation Commission from 2007-14.

Yoon is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

“It has and always will be an honor to serve the people and special places of Hawaiʻi, especially when it involves preserving and protecting our fleeting and fragile resources,” said Yoon.

Christopher Yuen is re-appointed to the Board and moving from an at-large seat to the 1st Land District (Hawaiʻi County) seat. He replaces Stanley Roehrig whose term began on July 1, 2018. Yuen’s term will end on June 30, 2022.

Yuen runs an organic farm north of Hilo growing lychees and bananas. He is an attorney and served as Hawaiʻi County Planning Director from 2000-08. Yuen also served on the state land board from 1990 to 1998.

Yuen was born and raised in Hilo. Over the years he has been involved in several campaigns to preserve coastal open space, including Keaukaha, Kalapana, Makalawena, Awakeʻe, the Kekaha Kai Park and Kohanaiki.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, a master’s degree in environmental science from the State University of New York and a law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law.

Yuen is married and has two children.

“I’m grateful to Gov. Ige for allowing me to continue on the Board, working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the key agency for the protection and wise use of our environment and natural resources,” said Yuen.

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