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Tuesday, July 11, 2023
​Board of Parks and Recreation relaunching with eight new nominees
By News Release @ 5:56 PM :: 1075 Views :: Honolulu County

Board of Parks and Recreation relaunching with eight new nominees

Mayor-appointed nominees require City Council approval

News Release from Office of the Mayor, July 11, 2023

O‘AHU – Mayor Rick Blangiardi and the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) are proud to announce eight new nominees to the Board of Parks and Recreation, a volunteer board created to advise DPR on recreational, cultural, and public entertainment opportunities at City parks and facilities.

“We are excited to resume and reinvigorate this public resource designed to provide expertise from a variety of perspectives related to parks and recreation,” said DPR Director Laura H. Thielen. “During the recent Mayoral townhall meetings the importance of park facilities and recreational programming around the island was heard loud and clear, with a wide array of DPR-related questions or topics arising at every forum. These upcoming park board meetings will continue that dialogue, serving as a regular line of communication to the public through these open meetings and nominees representing our diverse communities from keiki to kūpuna, town to country. ‘We add quality to life,’ is our department motto, and we hope this board will help us to further realize that goal with their valuable mana‘o.”

The Board nominees represent a broad sampling of professionals with backgrounds and first-hand experience in: youth outreach, leadership development, kūpuna engagement, environmental stewardship, Hawaiian cultural advocacy, designing public spaces, recreational programming, and promoting healthy lifestyles. They include (in alphabetic order from last name):

Katie Chang has served as the Executive Director for the Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders (CTL) for nearly ten years, during which time she greatly advanced the non-profit organization into an impactful institution with a dozen team members. CTL works with over 700 emerging leaders each year, focusing on supporting and inspiring Hawai‘i’s future trailblazers to represent their communities. She has been featured as Hawai‘i Business Leadership Magazine’s “20 for the Next 20 Award” and received Pacific Business News’ “40 under 40 Award.” She’s active in the community and serves on the boards for the Salvation Army, C4 Church, and Housing Hawai‘i’s Future.

Carla Houser is the Founder and Executive Director of Residential Youth Services & Empowerment (RYSE). Her previous work in youth outreach with Waikīkī Health and the YO! House is supported by professional and educational experience in social work and kinesiology. Her focus on keiki physical and mental health has a led to numerous community leadership roles in organizations specializing in the houseless, youth violence, and abuse prevention. She has also contributed to social work literature on youth homelessness, with publications appearing in two peer-reviewed journals.

John Leong is the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer for Kupu, an environmental non-profit focusing on developing the next generation of community leaders to cultivate a positive environmental impact in Hawai‘i and around the Pacific region. Launched in 2007, Kupu has generated more than $170 million in estimated socioeconomic impact for Hawai‘i and has educated, trained, or employed over 6,500 youth and young adults. As an environmental entrepreneur, Leong has helped to develop Hawai‘i’s green jobs industry, increase conservation awareness, and create career opportunities as the founder of Pono Pacific Land Management, LLC.

Robert Medeiros is the Senior Project Manager for Community Strategies and former Director of the Hawaiian Culture-based Education Department at Kamehameha Schools. Robert engages with community partners to provide resources and support for issues affecting Native Hawaiians, leading large and complex projects for Kamehameha Schools particularly around O‘ahu’s Windward Coast. A former Summer Fun aide and high school baseball coach, Robert received his higher education at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Nikki Medwetz is the Public Affairs Director for Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, and has worked in strategic communications for the company since 2008. She has previous marketing, media, and public relations experience in both the public and private sectors during her time in California. Her work on the islands includes incorporating the Disney brand into our unique communities, including promoting recreational opportunities for areas experiencing urban growth.

Christie Nishita, Ph.D. is the Director at the University of Hawai‘i Center on Aging. She has an extensive background in long-term care coordination, caregiving, Alzheimer's disease support programs, intergenerational programming, and age-friendly community development. In taking the leadership role for the University of Hawai‘i's Center on Aging, she built a stellar team to strengthen the quality of community-engaged, applied aging research in Hawai‘i. She is also the Co-Coordinator of the Kūpuna Collective, a statewide network of kūpuna-serving organizations working to address critical aging issues and incubate innovative solutions.

Michael Robinson is the Vice President of Government Relations & Community Affairs for Hawai‘i Pacific Health (HPH) where he leads the legislative advocacy and community engagement activities for the non-profit healthcare system comprised of: Kapi‘olani, Pali Momi, Straub, and Wilcox medical centers. He has worked with HPH or over 23 years, with previous experience as a fundraising executive, commercial real estate analyst, and urban planner. His educational background is in law, business administration, economics, and government policy.

Judith Stilgenbauer is a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, having been an instrumental part of UHM’s School of Architecture since 2012. A German native, Judith has previous DPR experience assisting the Trust for Public Land with renovations and planning for their philanthropic work at ‘A‘ala Park. Judith has a wide range of credits to her international work in the field of landscape architecture, including significant and award-winning professional and academic experience related to designing public parks. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The Board was created per City Charter Chapter 14 Section 6-1404, with members appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Honolulu City Council. Regular board meetings were suspended shortly after the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020.

For more information about the Board of Parks and Recreation, and for future information about public meetings, please visit:

If you need an auxiliary aid/service, other accommodations due to a disability, or an interpreter for a language other than English in reference to this announcement, please contact the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation at (808) 768-3003 on weekdays from 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or email at least three business days before the scheduled event. Without sufficient advanced notice, it may not be possible to fulfill requests.



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