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Melissa Nagatsuka

Facilitation
Coordinator

Melissa Nagatsuka has over a decade of experience working with social service programs and on initiatives at nonprofits, academic institutions, and at the county and state level. Melissa’s background includes program design, implementation, coordination and research & analysis. She also works in facilitation, cross-sector partnerships, leading collaborative assessments and capacity building efforts, prioritizing culturally-responsive and community-driven approaches to process, and outcome-focused evaluations.

With a passion for food security and agricultural sustainability in the Hawaiian Islands, Melissa’s involvement in grant-funded projects include: with The National Institute of Food and Agriculture and The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, Hawaiʻi Good Food Alliance, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, San Diego State University Research Foundation, and The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Melissa holds a Masters degree in Public Health from San Diego State University, along with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology at UCLA.

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Tam Nguyen

Vice President

Nguyen provides advocacy support and guidance to the Hāmākua Institute. He is the Global Head of Sustainability for Bechtel Corporation, based in northern Virginia. He has worked on the development and implementation of corporate sustainability, human rights and other corporate social responsibility policies and strategies for more than 10 years. Prior to that, Nguyen worked with international finance institutions and aid organizations as both a staff member and consultant.

Educated in the United States, Europe, and Asia, Nguyen is a graduate of George Washington University, and holds a doctorate in business administration and two master's degrees in international business and international development.

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Daniel McCall

Secretary

McCall has more than 20 years of experience managing conservation and development projects and programs. As am employee of the World Wildlife Fund and CARE, he has worked on initiatives in the countries of Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname and Guyana. He is skilled in organizational management, program development, partnership development, human resources, donor relations, evaluation, finance and accounting and working in challenging environments. 

McCall holds an MSc in Forestry from the Wageningan University, The Netherlands.

Meet The Team

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Dennis Flemming

Founder & Executive Director

Flemming has been a resident of the Hāmākua Coast in Hawaiʻi since 1998, using the town of Nīnole as his home base while commuting as project manager for a number of international development initiatives in the South Pacific and around the world. He recognizes that the Hākua coast’s transition from its long history of sugar production provides invaluable insights for other rural communities grappling with similar challenges.

 

Before establishing the Hākua Institute, Flemming spent three decades designing and implementing community programs in developing countries, acting as a consultant, trainer and program manager within both the private and public sectors. He has served as a facilitator and architect of numerous multi-stakeholder development partnerships including: Community Development Initiatives (CDI) Foundation (a set of rural development programs in Papua New Guinea); the Angola Partnership Initiative (pairing private and public sector support for the reconstruction and development of Angola after 27 years of civil war); and the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative, a corporate social enterprise created by Chevron to bring peace and development to the Niger Delta of Nigeria.

Flemming holds an MSc in Sustainable Development from the University of London.

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Andrea Kuch

Development Director

With over a decade of experience in corporate social investment and community development, Andrea has spent much of her career on project implementation, communication, and evluation of social impact intiatives. After more than seven years in the private sector, primarily supporting economic development and peace building work in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, she now serves as Development Director for the Hākua Institute. Her passion is in developing and scaling new ideas, technologies, and platforms for community development and social progress. Andrea holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Communications from the University of San Diego and a master’s certificate in Social Innovation from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

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Adhann Iwashita

Research Coordinator

Adhann Iwashita was born and raised in Mānoa on Oʻahu, a fourth generation descendant of settlers to Olaʻa, Hawaiʻi, and Mōʻiliʻili, Oʻahu. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology from Teachers College, Columbia University. His dissertation explored the question of what gets sustained through the practices of development, and how lived relationships with place can support human and nonhuman lifeways. He brings his skills in research and writing, along with a deep commitment to the people and places of Hawaiʻi, to the position of Research Coordinator at the Hāmākua Institute.

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Nancy Gilbert

Treasurer

Following a successful legal career, Nancy has worked with the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group of Rotary International and has established and managed the Appropriate Technology Enabled Development (ATED) Project in the Niger Delta of Nigeria for Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta.

Gilbert holds a LL.B from Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, Canada.