Meet Our Team
Kīpuka Kuleana was founded by four mothers, living and raising their children on the island of Kauaʻi. These women include one associate professor, a lawyer, one GIS specialist, and archival researcher, and one non-profit director with expertise in conservation easements; all dedicated to perpetuating kuleana and connection to ʻāina across generations.
Mehana Blaich Vaughan grew up in Namahana, Kauaʻi, on the border of the moku of Haleleʻa and Koʻolau. A graduate of Kīlauea elementary school, Mehana went to highschool on Oʻahu, then studied sociology and secondary education at Harvard University. After a decade teaching middle school in Hawaiian charter schools, developing ʻāina based education programs on Kauaʻi, and training teachers in culturally grounded education, Mehana returned to school herself to pursue a doctorate in environmental studies at Stanford University. Mehana is an associate professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management and U.H. Sea Grant College program. Her research, teaching and outreach focus on understanding and nurturing community care and governance of land and waters in Hawaiʻi. She loves to dance, make lei in the wili style of her grandmother, Amelia Ana Kaʻōpua Bailey, and share moʻolelo shared with her by beloved kūpuna. Mehanaʻs first book, "Kaiāulu, Gathering Tides" was published in 2018. She lives in Kīlauea with her husband, Kilipaki, mother, Beryl, and three children - Pikomanawa, Piʻinaʻemalina, and Anauleikupuna.
Dominique Leu Cordy grew up all over Oʻahu, and now lives and farms kalo with her kāne and their two keiki in Haleleʻa and Koʻolau, Kauaʻi. She currently does free-lance research across the pae ʻāina. Focusing on land in Hawaiʻi, she specializes in archival research and GIS mapping. She has a BA in Cultural anthropology from University of California at Davis and an MA in Pacific Island studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She has over 17 experience in the field of Cultural Resource Management (CRM) in Hawaiʻi; archaeology, EA and EIS review, community ethnography, Historic land and historical research, GIS research, and has guest lectured for 6 years for the Wahi Kūpuna Internship Program (WKIP) as well as at the University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu. Ms. Cordy has managed and developed cultural and historical GIS databases for government agencies, including the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE-POH), the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands. She engages actively in community organizations that seek to protect, preserve, and educate about Hawaiʻi's precious wahi kūpuna (cultural resources) and is a participating member of the Kaliʻuokapaʻakai Collective, the Waioli Taro Valley Hui.
Jennifer is the Chief Operating Officer for Common Ground Kauai. She previously served as Executive Director of the Kaua`i Public Land Trust, Kauai Island Director of the Hawaii Land Trust, and Managing Director of the Porter Trust and Wai Koa Plantation, where she oversaw the perpetual conservation of a 4-mile walking trail, multi-stakeholder negotiations for a dam remediation project, tenancy contracts and master plan renovations of 500+ acres of agricultural land. In addition to Kipuka Kuleana, Jennifer sits on the boards of the Hawaii Land Trust and Namahana Charter School and is currently pursuing a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. Jennifer lives on the north shore of Kauai with her husband Jason and daughters Midge and Frankie. She is happiest when she is spending time with them and her extended `ohana, surfing, running and making lei.
Christina ("Tina") Aiu is the Co-Founder and Business Director of Modesta Media, a Kauaʻi-based video production company offering media services to Hawaiʻi’s environmental sector, communities working to preserve land, and perpetuate cultural practices and businesses who value community and promote a shared responsibility for our earth. Tina has served as Program Manager for Livable Hawai’i Kai Hui and O‘ahu Island Director for Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. In addition to her service as a Board Director for Kīpuka Kuleana, Tina currently sits on the Board of the Kauaʻi Historical Society. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law with certificates in Environmental Law and Ocean Policy. Tina resides in Wailua Homesteads with her husband and business partner, Franz, and daughter, Makaʻalohi. Her favorite things to do include making "mermaid tails" in the sand with her toddler, skateboarding, and photographing Kauaʻi’s wahi pana (storied places).