About Us

The Hawai`i Rural Development Council (HRDC) is a statewide nonprofit organization committed to promoting and supporting the rural-based economic welfare of the State. Incorporated in 2003, the HRDC all-volunteer board of directors includes representatives from nonprofit and regional support organizations; federal, state and county governments; private sector and community representatives; and Native Hawaiians.

The primary goal of the HRDC is to create a mechanism for deep dialogue and analysis of the issues facing Hawai‘i’s rural communities. To attain this goal, the HRDC develops resources and projects that allow diverse stakeholders to consider rural issues in order to improve the quality of life through the economic opportunities in rural communities.

The HRDC is affiliated with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Rural Development Partnership (NRDP)’s State Rural Development Councils (SRDCs).  NRDP works to strengthen rural America through collaboration and cooperation among its partners, and HRDC membership with the SRDCs provides national resources and connections while working to address Hawai‘i specific rural issues.

The HRDC’s strategic focus includes the issues of:

• Agriculture
• Affordable Housing
• Sustainable Economic Development


2011-2012 Board Members

Alan Murakami, Chair

Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation

Alan Murakami has been NHLC’s litigation director since 1990, and an attorney with NHLC since 1985. He has specialized in litigating novel land and water issues affecting Native Hawaiians. In the process, Alan has created important precedent that allows Native Hawaiians to enforce their rights under two trusts established for their benefit and defined the trust obligations owed to Native Hawaiians. While defending Hawaiian families who retain legal interests in family lands against litigation challenging their ownership rights, Alan effectively persuaded the Supreme Court to articulate their due process rights.


Mona Bernardino, Secretary & Treasurer
Hi’ilei Aloha, LLC

Mona Bernardino is Chief Operating Officer of Hi‘ilei Aloha LLC, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  In this capacity, she works with six nonprofit organizations created by OHA, which include Waimea Valley on the North Shore of O‘ahu and capacity-building projects throughout Hawai‘i.  Prior to joining Hi‘ilei, Mona worked in a variety of roles at OHA, the most recent as deputy administrator where she oversaw the organization’s health, human services, housing, education, economic development, native rights, nation-building, and grants programs.  She is an attorney by training and worked in public interest law and private practice before joining OHA.


Kevin Chang
Hawai’i Community Stewardship Network / Kua‘aina ‘Ulu Auamo

Kevin was born in Honolulu and raised in Ahuimanu valley, ahupuaʻa of Kahaluʻu, moku of Ko‘olaupoko, O‘ahu where he graduated from J.B. Castle High School. He received a B.A. in Psychology and a J.D. from the University of Oregon where he co-founded the Coalition Against Environmental Racism (CAER) which has held an annual conference on environmental justice issues since 1995. Kevin is the Executive Director of Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA) formerly know as the Hawaiʻi Community Stewardship Network. Prior to KUA he was a Land Manager in the Land and Property Management Program of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and a Field Representative for the Trust for Public Lands’ Hawaiian Islands Program and practiced law as a solo practitioner in the field of entertainment law. He also currently serves on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu. Kevin produces films and is also a member of the band Kūpaʻāina (www.kupaaina.com) and uses music as a tool to raise awareness on the contemporary economic, social, cultural and environmental justice issues of Hawaiʻi.


Mark Chandler
HUD- Hawai’i State Office 

Mark A. Chandler is the Community Planning and Development Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Honolulu Field Office.  As Community Planning and Development Director, Mr. Chandler serves as the lead program official for HUD’s community development programs in the State of Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.  He has responsibility for a wide variety of federally assisted community and economic development activities throughout the jurisdiction with an annual budget allocation of about $68 million.  His major responsibilities include participating with state and local governments and nonprofit organizations to provide housing and community development assistance to low- and moderate-income individuals and families.


Kamuela Enos
MA`O Organic Farms

Kamuela Enos is currently a Community Education specialist at MA`O Organic Farms, where he works with low income communities to combat major health issues and promote sustainable agriculture. He worked previously at Empower Oahu on economic and community development initiatives and with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, where he served as a research assistant in the Office of Youth Services Strategic Planning Process. Kamuela holds a B.A in Hawaiian Studies and a M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa.


David Fuertes
Program Director, Partners in Development Foundation

David Fuertes was born and raised in Kaumakani, Kaua‘i, and a graduate of Waimea High, Shasta College and University of Hawai‘i Mānoa campus in Tropical Agriculture (Bachelor’s of Science) with a Professional Diploma in education. Served more than 30 years in the State Department of Education teaching Agriculture, Career Technical Education West Hawai’i District Resource Teacher, and State FFA Executive Secretary.  Served on numerous County, State, and Federal boards and commissions. Former Hawai’i County Deputy Managing Director and served as Hāmākua Community Liaison with State DBEDT creating economic development during the closure of (2) sugar plantations on the big island.


Thao Khamoui 
USDA-Rural Development

Thao Khamoui is the Area Director of USDA Rural Development overseeing the local offices in the State of Hawaii and American Samoa. He joined the Agency in 1985, including 3 years in Guam, and has experience in various USDA-RD programs. He coordinates with the Agency’s Program Directors in 3 mission areas of Rural Business Service (RBS), Rural Housing Service (RHS) and Rural Utilities Service (RUS). USDA has the unique responsibility of coordinating Federal assistance to rural areas. The Rural Development mission is to help rural Americans to improve the quality of their lives. USDA RD is working with State and local governments, as well as private and nonprofit organizations to provide technical assistance and financing in direct and guaranteed loans and grants.


Robyn Pfahl
UH Law School

Robyn Pfahl hails from Montana and is now raising her family on O‘ahu where she advocates for sustainable development with environmental, cultural, and economic initiatives.  She holds a B.S. in Agricultural Business Management with double minors in Economics and Animal Science from Montana State University, and earned her J.D. from William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa with Environmental Law and Native Hawaiian Law Certificates.  She was a horse trainer for over a decade, a coffee roaster for 7 years, a mediator and facilitator for the past 9 years, and continues to nurture her passions of edible cultivation, renewable energy, restorative justice, respectful diversity, and working on food security issues.


Herbert “Monty” Richards
Kahua Ranch

Herbert ‘Monty’ Richards is Chairman of Kahua Ranch, Ltd. For more than 50 years, Richards has been the guiding force behind innovation at Kahua, being the first in Hawaii to use intensified grazing to increase the capacity of the pastures, developing alternative energy sources to power the ranch, and diversifying the ranch’s offerings to include sheep, greenhouse vegetables, to use artificial insemination to enhance the genetics of the cattle, and to promote agricultural tourism.  His community service includes four terms as a University of Hawaii regent, chairmanship of the Rural Economic Transition Assistance–Hawaii program and the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii, and membership on the boards of The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, and the Agricultural Leadership Foundation.  He is Hawaii’s delegate to the Council on Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Teaching.  He was voted Hawaii’s Cattleman of the Year in 1984.


Richard Ha
Hamakua Springs Farms

Richard Ha is president of Hamakua Springs Farms. Located on the slopes of Mauna Kea in beautiful Pepe‘ekeo on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, Hamakua Springs is run by three generations of the Ha family. Richard’s farming experience goes way back. When he finished college with an accounting degree, his father asked him to come run his 40-acre chicken farm at Waiakea Uka. Richard decided to grow bananas on part of his father’s farm and he talked grocery stores into saving him banana boxes. He traded chicken manure to other farmers for banana plants. These days Richard is hard at work researching and experimenting with new products, and concentrating on the farm’s energy- and labor-efficient systems.

Deepening the dialogue about the issues facing Hawai‘i’s rural communities.

Engaging diverse stakeholders in the conversation about the future of our rural lands.

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