Team Bios

About the Recovery Team

In the early stages of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, the County of Hawaiʻi launched its recovery program with support from State and Federal partners. Recovery is complex and, therefore, requires broad participation and leadership across numerous departments.In addition to extensive participation from its departments, the County also engaged expert consultants to build capacity to plan and implement recovery. For more information about individual members of the recovery team, including its consultant partners, see below.

County

Civil Defense

Talmadge Magno – Civil Defense Administrator

Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno is a graduate of Hilo High School and University of Hawaii at Hilo, where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geography. He is a retired National Park Service Ranger with 30 years of experience providing emergency management and law enforcement throughout the western United States and Hawai‘i. Prior to joining the County, Talmadge served as Chief Ranger of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park for eight years.

Corporation Counsel

Ronald Kim – Deputy Corporation Counsel

Ronald Kim is a member of the counseling and drafting division.
Ronald received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Gonzaga University with a major in History and minors in International Relations and Speech Communications. He received his Juris Doctorate Degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa with an Environmental Law Program Certificate and Pacific Asian Legal Studies Certificate.

Following graduation from law school, Kim clerked for Judge Craig H. Nakamura (who is presently Chief Judge) at the Intermediate Court of Appeals for the State of Hawai‘i. Ronald subsequently engaged in the practice of law with several different private firms in Honolulu for over a decade before joining the Office of Corporation Counsel. While in private practice, he handled and assisted in a wide variety of litigation and transactional matters.Ronald is a member of the Hawai‘i State and Hawai‘i County Bar Associations.

Finance

Deanna Sako – Finance Director

Deanna Sako became Finance Director in October 2017. She started at the County in 1999 as Accountant for the Department of Parks and Recreation. In 2001, she joined the Finance Department as Controller, and later served as the Deputy Finance Director.

Her experience before entering County government included 12 years of auditing for Deloitte & Touche LLP in Honolulu, Maui and Hilo. Deanna participated in audits for the County of Hawai‘i and other counties for many of those years.She graduated from Molokai High and Intermediate School, then received her bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College with majors in Computer Science and Accounting. She received her Master of Accounting Science degree from the University of Illinois.

Steven Hunt – Finance Deputy Director

Steven Hunt is a neighbor island transplant who recently moved his family to Waimea after residing on Kaua‘i for the past 44 years. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington, where he majored in business, and a master’s degree in business administration from the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

Prior to joining the County’s Department of Finance, Steven served as the Real Property Tax Manager and, later, as the Director of Finance for the County of Kaua‘i. His resume also includes over a decade of private sector experience having worked as a real estate developer, private banker, and real estate appraiser. Throughout his career, he has volunteered for numerous boards, committees and service organizations.

Mayor's Office

Harry Kim – Mayor

Harry Kim was educated at Southern Oregon State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Education & Sociology and a Master of Science and Economics degrees. He was a medic in the U.S. Army and later a public high school and college teacher. He began working for the County of Hawai‘i as the Law Enforcement Assistance Agency Director 1972-1976, Civil Defense Administrator 1976-2000, and a two-term Mayor from 2000-2008. He was elected again as mayor in 2016.

Harry has served as an international advisor on natural disaster response systems for Indonesia, Thailand, Germany and Honduras; was selected by National Academy of Sciences to review the volcanic hazards program of the U.S. Geological Survey; and was selected by UNESCO and UNDRO to be a contributor in the development of an emergency management handbook for volcanic events distributed by United Nations.

Sharon Hirota – Executive Assistant

Pending

Roy Takemoto – Executive Assistant

Roy Takemoto serves as Executive Assistant to Mayor Harry Kim. He served with Mayor Kim during the Mayor’s two terms in 2000-2008, first as Deputy Planning Director and then as Executive Assistant.

Roy worked as a private planning consultant prior to 2000 and after 2008. He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and environmental studies, a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, and a law degree from the University of Hawai‘i.

Roy was raised near Wahiawa on O‘ahu. In 1991, he quit his job working for a hotel developer, married a Hilo girl and moved to Hilo to be among his wife’s and mother’s families. He has a son who just graduated from college. Roy is a member of the Rotary Club of Hilo Bay, enjoys swimming, and is trying to learn tai chi.

Wil Okabe – Managing Director

Wil Okabe was appointed by Mayor Harry Kim, and confirmed by the County Council, as the Managing Director for the County of Hawai’i in 2016. Prior to his current role, Wil served as Governor David Ige’s representative for East Hawai’i. For almost three decades, he served the State of Hawai’i through the Department of Education in various capacities.

He was also the Hawaii State Teachers Association President and worked for the Department of Labor in the Job Corps Program. Wil received his bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education (K-12) from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and his Masters of Education/Professional Development from Heritage College in Toppenish, Washington.

Wil was a former high school football and track & field coach for various high schools in East Hawai‘i. He is active in the community by serving on various boards, such as the State Aquatic and Wildlife Commission, Dream Come True and several other organizations. 

Office of Housing & Community Development

Duane Hosaka – Housing Administrator

Duane Hosaka is a graduate of Aiea High School and received a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. He moved to Hawai‘i Island in 1985 and was Operations Manager for Liberty House. He joined the County in 1997 with the Department of Parks and Recreation, before transferring to Civil Defense in 2006, and served in various supervisory and administrative positions. Currently, Duane applies his years of administrative and supervisory experience to support the staff and projects at the Office of Housing and Community Development.

Planning

April Surprenant – Acting Deputy Director

April Surprenant’s primary aspirations are in the areas of hazard mitigation, disaster resiliency, climate adaptation and overall sustainability for the island. She serves on the County’s Recovery Team with a focus on community, land use, and natural resource planning in the aftermath of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, as well as on the State’s Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Commission.  

April previously was the County’s Long-Range Planning Manager. Her primary accountabilities encompassed the County’s Coastal Zone Management Program, the General Plan, the regional community development plans, transportation planning, as well as many other long-range planning initiatives. With more than 25 years’ experience, April utilizes her diverse background in planning, architecture and real estate to intertwine the most appropriate elements from these disciplines given the project or situational need.

Her professional tenures include the City of Atlanta Planning Department, Sasaki Associates in Boston, and principal broker for both Judd S. Meltzer Co. in New York City and Coldwell Banker/The Condo Store, Nevada. Her planning practice has focused on community-based projects requiring significant public participation: Centennial Olympic Park and assorted revitalization projects in Atlanta; multiple university master plans; and the General Plan, community development plans, and village plans in Hawai‘i.  

Further, April enjoys being an adjunct professor for the University of Hawai’i in Hilo where she teaches planning courses under the Geography Department. Her favorite pastimes include keeping up with her daughter, playing tennis, and hiking the amazing wonders of Hawai‘i.

Douglas Le – Administrative Services Officer

Pending

Michael Yee – Planning Director

Michael Yee brings experience in urban planning, community development and housing grounded in cultural and historic preservation. He believes building trusting relationships leads to impactful collaborations in communities. Michael is a strong advocate for government to play a leading role in social justice and equity issues.

Michael earned a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University Washington and a Master in Business Administration at the Albers School of Business at Seattle University.

Recovery

Audrey Robeson – Housing Recovery VISTA

Audrey Robeson is from West Palm Beach, Florida, and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Central Florida where she studied archaeology of ancient cities and environmental anthropology. She was a member of the Anthropology honors society and volunteered with the United Nations Association of Orlando.

After she graduated in 2016, she moved to London to pursue a Master’s of Science in Urban Studies at University College London where she focused on urban sustainability and climate change. For her thesis, she wrote about Hurricane Harvey and the impacts of flooding on reshaping Houston as a waterscape. She moved to Hilo in 2019 as an AmeriCorps VISTA to work with Hawai‘i County Department of Research and Development on Housing Solutions and Resilient Recovery. 

Bob Agres – Recovery Engagement Manager

Pending

Kara Bocher – Economic Recovery VISTA

Kara Bocher joined Hawai’i County as Economic Recovery Solutions Coordinator in January 2018. She is an Americorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service to America). The Americorps VISTA program was created in 1965 to help eradicate poverty by building community capacity and advancing local solutions. She is also a part of the Kīlauea eruption Recovery Community Engagement Team. 

Her experience prior to working for the County includes working with a variety of grass-roots, community based economic development non-profits in Colorado, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Kenya. Most recently she worked for Imani Collective, a Kenyan artisan-based, holistic women’s empowerment organization. 

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University with majors in Sociology and International Development.

Tom Callis – Recovery Communications Specialist

Tom Callis is a former newspaper reporter who spent seven years writing for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald before joining the Recovery Team. At the newspaper, he covered several natural disasters that impacted Puna, such as the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, the lava flow that threatened Pahoa in 2014, and Tropical Storm Iselle. Prior to moving to Hawaii in 2012, he worked for the Peninsula Daily News in Port Angeles, Washington. Tom graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and political science. 

Research & Development

Diane Ley – R&D Director/Interim Recovery Manager

Diane L. Ley is the Director of the County's Department of Research and Development where she oversees the delivery of programs and services that enhance the quality of life and sustainability of Hawai‘i Island communities through leadership in the areas of energy, agriculture, tourism, economic and community development, film and immigration.

As the interim Recovery Manager, Diane depends upon extensive executive leadership in county, state and federal positions, as well as roles in the non-profit and private sector. Her experience includes leading USDA’s Hawaii and Pacific Basin teams in emergency preparedness and post-disaster response and recovery. 

Legislative

County Council

As legislative partners, County Council members from the affected districts play an important role in supporting communications with the public and, as planning and recovery implementation advances, they will be engaged in making key decisions along with the rest of the Council.

Ashley Kierkiewicz (District 4)

Ashley L. Kierkiewicz is Big Island born and raised. She was elected as the District 4 Council Member for the 2018-2020 Hawai‘i County Council. Ashley is focused on empowering community, leveraging public-private partnerships, and activating local economy so all Hawai‘i Island residents can thrive.

Ashley has nearly a decade of experience working in communication and outreach for Hastings & Pleadwell, where she provided strategy and media relations for a range of clients statewide. She is engaged to Kaui Nakanelua, a Hawai‘i County firefighter. Together they are raising their two children, Arya and Toby, in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Ashley has an open-door policy, and she looks forward to working directly with the community to revitalize Puna, and our island, with vision and vitality.

Matthew Kaneali‘i Kleinfelder (District 5)

Matthew Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder lives in Kurtistown with his wife, Dawn, and their two children, Adam and Maya, while their oldest child, Alexis, attends Avila University in Missouri. Matthew attended Hawai‘i Community College and UH-Hilo where he received his Associate in Liberal Arts. He wears many hats: he is a server, a bartender, an electrician, a solar installer, a glassblower, and a small restaurant owner. Yet, at his core, Matt holds true to family values, honesty and hard work. Today, he’s ready to make a difference that goes beyond single rooftops and help make decisions that uplift his community.

Maile David (District 6)

Maile David was re-elected as District 6 Council Member for the 2018-2020 Hawai‘i County Council and serves as Chair of Committee on Finance.

Maile was born in Kealakekua, Kona and is of Hawaiian, Portguese and Filipino descent. She attended public schools and graduated from Konawaena High School in 1970. Maile is the younger of two daughters of Edward and Christine (Abril) Medeiros and comes from a family heritage deeply rooted in culture, ranching and coffee farming in South Kona. She is married to Russel David, II, her husband of 39 years. They have two children, Leinani Cataraha and Michael David, and three grandchildren, Kehaunani and Makoa Tavares, and Josiah Goulding.

Maile enjoys spending time with family and friends, camping, fishing, coffee farming, lauhala weaving, playing the ukulele and cooking.

Consultants

Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD)

The Institute for Sustainable Development is a non-profit organization, founded by academics, business and philanthropic leaders that provides consulting on thought leadership, technical support, useful information and resources. Its team supports effective and inclusive disaster recovery, resilience, and transformative community development. In the aftermath of disasters, ISD works to help communities recover and build capacity and resiliency, including economic development strategies as well as facilitating public-private partnerships. ISD is working on recovery projects in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, the Midwest, California and is gearing up for the Bahamas. ISD has been retained by Hawai‘i County to assist with the Island’s economic recovery planning related to the 2018 Kīlauea eruption and Hurricane Lane.

International Economic Development Council (IEDC)

ISD partners with the International Economic Development Council should the project require a “deep dive.” IEDC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of economic developers that provides leadership and expertise to communities seeking to enhance wellbeing and quality of life. With about 5,000 members, it is the world’s largest organization of economic developers.

Kilauea Hui

The Kilauea Hui is a committee of organizations formed to meet long-term recovery needs of eruption and earthquake survivors. Member organizations include Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, the Hub and Neighborhood Place of Puna. The Hui contributes and raises funds to assist impacted individuals on an ongoing basis.

Pacific Disaster Center

PDC, based in Maui, is an applied research center managed by the University of Hawaii, that helps government agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and humanitarian relief organizations effectively mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Its goal is to work with partners to conduct baseline risk and national disaster preparedness assessments. It then helps create mitigation strategies, supports training and exercises. PDC provides technology for global risk intelligence, early warning, and tools for assessing risk and hazard impacts. Its motto is to “help prevent hazards from becoming disasters and disasters from becoming catastrophes.”

PDC provided a modeled impact assessment immediately following the magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Hawaii County on May 4, 2018, the day after the lower east rift zone lava flow started. As part of the recovery efforts from the earthquake and the Kīlauea eruption, PDC prepared an updated volcanic risk/vulnerability assessment for the County. 

Tetra Tech, Inc.

Tetra Tech is a worldwide consulting and engineering services organization. The firm supports government and commercial clients with innovative solutions focused on water, environment, infrastructure, resource management, energy, and international development. Tetra Tech has 400 offices around the globe, including Honolulu and Hilo.

The County contracted with Tetra Tech to consult on two projects. The first involves collaborating with the County’s Kīlauea eruption Recovery Team to develop a comprehensive community relief, recovery and relocation plan focused on long-term, resilient recovery. The plan will identify solutions, near and long-term implementation actions, and financing strategies focused on housing, infrastructure, resource protection and economic well-being.

The County is also consulting with Tetra Tech on a second project, the Volcanic Risk Mitigation Strategy, in which Tetra Tech is to provide a robust Volcanic Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan to support the 2019 Hawai‘i County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Disaster Recovery Plan.