Blue Planet Team
Blue Planet Team
Prior to working with the Foundation, Jeff served for ten years as the director of the state's largest environmental advocacy organization, the Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter. His accomplishments in environmental advocacy include passing legislation that sets a binding cap on Hawaii’s greenhouse gas emissions, requires that all new homes use solar water heaters, requires returnable deposits on all beverage containers, provides incentives for renewable energy use, and increases the funding of natural resources through tourism taxes. He also served as Vice Chair of the Honolulu Planning Commission and the Honolulu Charter Commission, authoring the city charter amendments that mandated island-wide curbside recycling and created a bike- and pedestrian-friendly Honolulu.
In addition to his role with Blue Planet, Jeff also serves as a district manager for Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Project, and he has been awarded an EPA Environmental Hero Award. In 2005, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin ranked him among "10 Who Made a Difference," and Pacific Business News selected him as one of their "Forty Under 40" in 2010. Jeff has been quoted as a source thousands of times in Hawaii, national, and international news outlets. He holds Master’s of Science in Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he specialized in decision theory.
Richard formerly worked as an attorney in Honolulu, handling complex litigation on a wide range of issues. He has also worked with the Center for Island Climate Adaptation & Policy at the University of Hawaii, analyzing climate-adaptive tools for managing water resources. He has lectured on legal issues to future technological and social entrepreneurs at U.H.'s law, business, and engineering graduate schools, and he has authored papers on shoreline issues, renewable energy resources, and other topics. Richard graduated summa cum laude from the William S. Richardson School of Law, where he was Editor-In-Chief of the U.H. Law Review. While at U.H., he also performed field and laboratory research on biochemical markers of climate change (M.S., chemical oceanography). At the University of California at Berkeley, he studied chemistry (B.S.).
Melissa received a law degree and a certificate in environmental law from the William S. Richardson School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science from the University of Denver. Prior to joining the Blue Planet team, Melissa worked as a legal fellow assisting various state agencies in Hawaii with administrative rulemaking, invasive species law and policy, and inter-agency coordination. She has authored papers on climate justice and taught persuasive writing at U.H.'s law school. As a former bankruptcy litigation attorney, Melissa handled complex adversary trial proceedings and appellate level cases. Before attending law school, Melissa worked as an environmental scientist for a Hawaii-based consulting company, managing multi-party environmental projects for a diverse client base. Melissa was born in Colorado, spent her teenage years in Peru, and has lived in Hawaii since 2005.
Director of Innovation
David Aquino recently graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he led the Energy Team of Sustainable UH. David's team engaged campus groups in energy efficiency efforts, training them in how to assess the energy consumption in their campus facilities. As the team leader and Logistics Manager of Sustainable UH, David was one of three students in 2008 chosen by Blue Planet Foundation to attend the Powershift conference in Washington DC. The conference brought together 12,000 young activists from across the globe to lobby for clean energy and green jobs in front of the nation's Capitol. David has since carried this momentum forward and continues to deliver the clean energy message to Hawaii's youth. David was born and raised on Oahu, and loves to surf and eat English muffins (sometimes at the same time).
Special Projects Director
Francois spent sixteen years with one of the largest Japanese wholesale travel agencies, where he was directly involved in event management, educational programming, and sales and marketing for group packages to Hawaii. He also served as director of the highly successful Honolulu Festival for nearly a decade, managing the branding, logistics, marketing, budgeting and organizational structure of the nonprofit entity. Francois was born in New York, raised in Japan and the Philippines, and currently lives in Kaneohe. He joined Blue Planet Foundation in 2006.
Clean Transportation Director
Shem is passionate about sustainable transportation and creating vibrant, healthy communities for everyone. An Oahu resident since 1997, he comes to Blue Planet after spending the past six years as a transit-oriented development (TOD) planner with the City and County of Honolulu, where he focused on promoting smart growth land use policies, affordable housing, and sustainable mobility through walking, cycling, public transit, bikeshare, and carsharing. Shem also served as the project manager for the city's HUD Community Challenge Grant Program, which resulted in the creation of the Honolulu TOD Affordable Housing Fund, a revolving loan fund providing financing to affordable housing projects near rail transit stations. He earned a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Prior to joining Blue Planet, Ryan worked for the State of Hawaii both as Commission Counsel for the Public Utilities Commission and as the Wind and Solar Specialist for the Hawaii State Energy Office within the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism. He has a BSBA in International Business from Hawaii Pacific University and a J.D. from the Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California.