A&B’s Chris Benjamin Elected Chair of Nature Conservancy Hawaiʻi Board of Trustees
New Board Chair Succeeds Businessman Kenton Eldridge
News Release from Nature Conservancy December 16, 2014
Honolulu, HI—Christopher J. Benjamin, president and chief operating officer of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., has been elected chair of the Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i. He succeeds businessman Kenton Eldridge, who chaired the Board for the past three years.
“It is with great pleasure that I pass the leadership of the Conservancy on to Chris Benjamin,” Eldridge said. “I have great respect for Chris’ commitment to Hawai‘i and the passion he brings to conservation. His dedication and leadership will ensure the ongoing success of the Conservancy for years to come.”
Benjamin has served on the Hawaiʻi Board since 2007 and has worked closely with Conservancy staff to develop the 10-year vision and current three-year plan for forest and marine conservation. He is focused on ensuring financial stability, sound measures of conservation success and effective partnerships with agency and community partners, business leaders, resource managers, decision-makers and other supporters.
“The Nature Conservancy has been fortunate throughout its history to have board chairs who are deeply committed to conservation and to the overall betterment of Hawaiʻi,” said Suzanne Case, the Conservancy’s Hawaiʻi Executive Director. “Chris Benjamin continues that tradition.”
Alexander & Baldwin has been a lead corporate sponsor of the Conservancy’s Hawaiʻi work for decades. Last April, the East Maui Irrigation Company, an A&B subsidiary, donated a conservation easement over 3,721 acres of East Maui rainforest to The Nature Conservancy. The new parcel lies adjacent to the Conservancy’s Waikamoi Preserve and expanded its size to almost 9,000 acres, making it the largest private nature preserve in the state.
The Conservancy also has two preserves on Kauaʻi established through conservation agreements with Alexander & Baldwin: the 80-acre Kanaele Bog, located in the mountains above Kalaheo town on the island’s south side; and the 7,050-acre Wainiha Valley, located above Haena on Kauai’s scenic windward coast. Kanaele is one of the islands’ last remaining low-elevation bogs, while Wainiha Valley includes one of Kauai’s largest river systems, magnificent mountain cliffs and portions of the famed Alaka‘i wilderness and Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale summit region, one of the wettest spot on Earth.
“It is an honor to serve as the chair of The Nature Conservancy’s Board of Trustees,” Benjamin said. “I believe strongly in the mission of the Conservancy and its science-based, solution-oriented, collaborative approach. I look forward to working with my fellow trustees, staff and partners in continuing to advance the work of The Nature Conservancy.”
Joining Benjamin on the Conservancy’s Hawaiʻi leadership team are conservation committee chair Peter Tomozawa, fundraising committee chair Dustin Sellers, outreach committee chairs James Wei and Nate Smith, nominating and governance chair Crystal Rose, field engagement liaison Scott Rolles, treasurer Eric Yeaman and global ambassador Eiichiro Kuwana.
Recently joining the Conservancy’s Board of Trustees as a new member is attorney Paul Alston of the Honolulu-based law firm Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing. Alston has worked as an attorney in Hawaiʻi for more than 40 years, starting in 1972 when he went to work for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi as one of its staff attorneys in Waiʻanae.
Alston has served as President of the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association and the Hawaiʻi Justice Foundation. He has been named Hawaiʻi Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America® four times: in 2014 and 2009 for Bet-the-Company Litigation; in 2013 for Appellate Practice; and in 2012 for Real Estate Litigation. He serves as counsel to many non-profit organizations, including the Mental Health Association and Kokua Kalihi Valley. He and his wife Tanya also own and operate an organic fruit and berry farm in Volcano, Hawaiʻi.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy at www.nature.org.
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