Kīpuka Kuleana was founded in 2018 by four mothers living and raising their children on the island of Kauaʻi. These women include an associate professor, a lawyer, a GIS specialist and an archival researcher, and a non-profit director with expertise in conservation easements - all dedicated to perpetuating kuleana and connection to ʻāina across generations.
Board of Directors
Mehana Blaich Vaughan
Mehana Blaich Vaughan grew up in Namahana and Kalihiwai, Kauaʻi, on the border of the moku of Haleleʻa and Koʻolau. A graduate of Kīlauea Elementary School, Mehana went to high school on Oʻahu, then studied sociology and secondary education at Harvard University. After a decade of 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. Mehana's 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 - who, along with her father, Gary Blaich, inspire this work.
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).
Jennifer Luck is the Chief Operating Officer for Common Ground Kauaʻi. She previously served as Executive Director of the Kauaʻi Public Land Trust, Kauaʻi Island Director of the Hawaiʻi 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 Kīpuka Kuleana, Jennifer sits on the boards of the Hawaiʻi Land Trust and Namahana Charter School. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. Jennifer lives on the north shore of Kauaʻi with her husband Jason and daughters Midge and Frankie. She is happiest when she is spending time with them and her extended ʻohana, surfing, running and making lei.
Elif C. Beall
Elif Beall is a licensed attorney, community advocate, and budding writer. Elif was founding Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), and has served in many non-profit positions including executive leadership, development, and communications. Elif lives on the north shore of Kauaʻi with her husband, where she has resided since 2004. In addition to Kīpuka Kuleana, Elif also serves on the Kauaʻi Island Council for the Hawaiʻi Land Trust. She's happiest when in nature, or when practicing hula or lei-making, or discussing good questions and hopeful futures with family and friends.
Dominique Leu Cordy
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 does freelance 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 years of experience in the field of Cultural Resource Management (CRM) in Hawaiʻi, archaeology, EA and EIS review, community ethnography, historic land and historical research, and GIS research. She has guest lectured for six years for the Wahi Kūpuna Internship Program (WKIP) as well as 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. She is a co-founder of Kīpuka Kuleana.
Sarah Barger serves as the Director of Programs for Kīpuka Kuleana. She leads operations, including grant writing, research and strategic communications, and provides direct support to families working to keep their ʻohana ʻāina (ancestral lands) using creative land protection strategies. Sarah has a BA in Psychology, a BA in American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and a minor in Medical Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has over a decade of experience conducting stakeholder engagement in public health research, developing grant proposals, and managing community research projects. Her past and current work with indigenous leaders and elders in communities across North America, Aotearoa, Chilean Patagonia and Hawaiʻi guides her efforts to protect and mālama (care for) lands and waters across Kauaʻi. Through Kīpuka Kuleana, she collaborates with tribal leaders and allied groups in Louisiana, California and Borikén (Puerto Rico) working to rematriate and protect indigenous lands and waters and perpetuate cultural practices, which build resilience in the face of climate change. Her connection to local communities on Kauaʻi is rooted in organic farming, working at local farmers markets, and participating in community-led ʻāina restoration and climate resilience projects. She is happiest on the water and in the mountains - especially when paddling, running, hiking, biking and climbing with friends.