John T. Leong, Chair

Pono Pacific Land Management LLC Co-founder, Chairman and CEO

Kupu Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

John Leong’s passion for creating a more resilient Hawai‘i is the inspiration and foundation for his ground-breaking work and accomplishments. As an environmental entrepreneur, Leong has helped to develop Hawai‘i’s green jobs industry, increasing conservation awareness and creating career opportunities in natural resource management and sustainability.

After graduating from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2000, Leong founded Pono Pacific Land Management, LLC, a conservation and land management services company. Pono Pacific is the only comprehensive, private natural resource management company in Hawai‘i, which today impacts important conservation, agriculture, and other lands throughout the state. Striving to continually innovate the company and its services, Leong has bridged Pono Pacific’s long-term conservation management goals with revenue-generating, land-based sustainability projects including reforestation, local food production, and renewable energy.

In 2007, Leong co-founded non-profit organization Kupu, to cultivate positive environmental impact by focusing on developing Hawai‘i’s next generation of environmental stewards and community leaders. Kupu’s youth conservation and sustainability programs provide environmental and cultural education and experiences, as well as personal and professional development opportunities. Over the past decade, Kupu has helped to engage over 4,000 program participants statewide, many who have since established successful education and career pathways in conservation and sustainability. Through its innovative programs and partnerships, Kupu has hired and impacted over 4,000 young adults and generated a total of more than $130 million in economic impact for the state, with a 1 to 3 cost-to-benefit ratio.

Leongʻs awards and recognitions include:

  • 2019: Obama Foundation Fellow
  • 2019: Development of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Ho`okupu Center
  • 2018: Testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • 2016: Hawai‘i Community Foundation Ho‘okele Award
  • 2014: Na Kama Kai Ho‘okele Award
  • 2013: Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs Ho‘oulu Leadership Award
  • 2012: Hawaii Business Magazine 20 for the Next 20
  • 2010: Pacific Business News Forty Under 40 and Bank of Hawaii Community Leader of the Year

Leong serves on several boards and associations such as the City and County Resilience Strategy Steering Committee, Metro YMCA of Honolulu, Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs (HIPA), Lambda Alpha International (LAI), UH Sea Grant, and Trust For Public Land.

Born and raised in Hawai‘i, Leong is a graduate of Punahou School. He is married to fellow high school alumna and Pono Pacific and Kupu co-founder Julianna Rapu Leong. Together they have four amazing children and live in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.