Strategic Advisory Board

Hawaii Energy’s Strategic Advisory Board is helping to broaden the impact and benefits of energy efficiency for Hawaii’s residents and businesses. These local industry leaders are providing insights into their respective industries and serving as energy efficiency ambassadors.

  • Bettina Mehnert


    A respected visionary and leader, AHL’s president and chief executive officer, Bettina Mehnert, FAIA, LEED AP is a force in the evolution and innovation in Hawaii’s architectural sector. Her philosophy blends a focus on sustainability, technology, firm culture, client cultivation, and community service as inseparable filaments of professional leadership, keeping her almost 75-year-old firm firmly faced towards the future.

    In recognition of her management style and leadership, Mehnert has been honored with numerous awards and in 2016 was named a Fellow in the American Institute of Architecture (AIA), a prestigious honor held only by 53 architects in Hawaii since 1948. She was named CEO of the Year by Hawaii Business Magazine in 2019.

    In 2018, Mehnert was appointed to the new five-member Honolulu Climate Change Commission. She uses her background in architecture and engineering and her expertise in the built environment to advocate for strong resiliency policies.

    A licensed architect in her native Germany and in Hawaii and Guam, she is an active member of AIA Honolulu and International Chapters, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) where she serves on ULI’s National Council on Responsible Property Investment and Advisory Services Panel, and most recently on the Strategic Advisory Board of Hawaii Energy. Mehnert also serves on the board of Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Hawaii and as a trustee of St. Andrew’s Schools.

  • Brent Kakesako

    Hawaii Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development

    Brent Kakesako is the executive director of the Hawaii Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED), a nonprofit that strengthens the strategic readiness of communities and the capacity of community-based organizations to achieve their vision of genuine wealth. Brent is humbled to carry on HACBED’s 26-year legacy by overseeing its management, operations, and strategy; developing and coaching the team; and providing capacity building, facilitation, network building, and other technical support.

    Brent co-facilitated a local chapter of a global accelerator that led to the launch of three companies and co-founded a consultancy that supported local entrepreneurs with creating community-focused programs. He received his MBA from the Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, a law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law, and a bachelor of arts cum laude from Harvard University. Brent is a board member of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Oʻahu Workforce Development Board, and Community Steering Committee Member for Prosperity Now.

  • Jason Ito

    Kyo-ya Management Company, Ltd.

    With 37 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Jason joined the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1987 as an information systems manager to the Kyo-ya/Sheraton Hotels. He advanced through various operational departments and led improvement projects eventually being appointed as the General Manager, Support Services, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Waikiki for his last 6 years until leaving to join Kyo-ya in 2009. Jason serves as Kyo-ya’s vice president, Administration, Labor and Community Relations. His responsibilities are aligned with and perpetuates Kyo-ya’s core values of taking care of its employees, supporting and doing what is right for the community, and maintaining the long term legacy and stewardship of its assets.

  • Jennifer Potter

    Strategen Consulting

    Jennifer Potter currently serves as Director of Regulatory Innovation at Strategen Consulting. She previously served as a commissioner with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission for four years. Prior to her role at the PUC, she was a faculty member at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) and a Sr. Scientific Engineering Associate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Preceding her stint in academia, Jennifer worked for Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Roseville Electric as a Principal Forecaster, Project Manager, and Enterprise Performance Manager. Jennifer has a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and International Studies from Southern Oregon University.

  • Lauren Zirbel

    Hawaii Food Industry Association

    Lauren Zirbel has served as the Executive Director of the Hawaii Food Industry Association from January of 2012 to the present. Lauren is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs and strategic plan of the association. She serves as the publisher of the Hawaii Retail Grocer Magazine.

    Lauren transitioned HFIA to the next generation of organizational leaders and successfully incorporated new companies’ viewpoints and strategic goals into the HFIA’s platform. Lauren directs and coordinates all activities and programs conducted by the association.

    Lauren has developed relationships with many non-profit and government leaders and spearheaded proactive legislative solutions to advance the affordability and sustainability of food in Hawaii.

    Lauren is directly responsible for overseeing the administration of Made in Hawaii Festival, the largest tradeshow in the State of Hawaii.

  • Lisa Maruyama

    Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations

    Lisa Maruyama has served as the President and CEO of the Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations for 12 years. She served previously as the Vice President of Public Affairs for Bright Light Marketing, and before that as Executive Directors for the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council and the Mental Health Association. She has a particular focus in strategic thinking for systems change, nonprofit management, strategic communications and marketing, program development, sector level public policy issues and government relations.

    Maruyama is on the board of the O`ahu Economic Development Board, the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center, O`ahu; the Advisory Committee of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa Public Administration Program; and the Leadership Board of Transform Hawaii Government (THG).

    Maruyama received her BBA from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, Shidler School of Business. She is a Pacific Century Fellow, Weinberg Fellow, PONO Fellow and was designated Top Forty Under 40 by the Pacific Business News in 2001.

  • Nicola Hedge

    Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. City and County of Honolulu

    Nicola brings almost fifteen years of experience working with local governments on climate action, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, transportation and resilience policy and projects. She began as Deputy Director for CCSR in February 2021, after two years with the City as a Climate Advisor for the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the building and transportation sectors.  Prior to returning to Oʻahu in 2019, Nicola led environmental initiatives at The San Diego Foundation helping to drive coordinated climate action among cities in southern California.  A graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, she also holds a master’s degree in Pacific and International Affairs from the University of California, San Diego.

  • Sheri Daniels

    Papa Ola Lokahi

    Sheri has been leading Papa Ola Lōkahi, the Native Hawaiian Health Board since 2016. Papa Ola Lōkahi (POL) is the organization charged by the United States Congress with administrative oversight of the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act [Public Law 102-396]. In this role, she leads efforts to improve the overall health and well-being of Native Hawaiians and their families, through strategic partnerships, programs and public policy.

    Born, raised, and currently residing on Maui, she has over two decades of experience in social service programs along with years of supervisory experience, including both government and non-profit management. It is through these capacities that Dr. Daniels has worked closely with Hawaii’s unique and diverse population to overcome inequities.

    Sheri is actively involved in various community and civic organizations locally, nationally and internationally. She was recently added to the International Indigenous Council for Healing Our Spirit Worldwide in 2018. In 2019, Dr. Daniels was added to both the Advisory Council on Minority Health (Office on Minority Health) and the Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention & Control Advisory Board.

    Dr. Daniels is one of the co-leads for the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Hawaii COVID19 Response, Recovery, Resilience Team that involves over 30 organizations throughout Hawaii that is focused on addressing the needs and advocating for these communities.

    A graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, Dr. Daniels received her bachelor’s in family resources from the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. She carries a master’s in counseling psychology from Chaminade University of Honolulu, in addition to a doctorate from Argosy University, and currently holds several license certifications.

  • Walter Thoemmes

    Kamehameha Schools Commercial Real Estate Division

    Walter Thoemmes is Managing Director of Kamehameha Schools (KS) Commercial Real Estate Division (CRED). He directs KS’ $3.5B Commercial Real Estate portfolio consisting of 275 assets located on Oʻahu and Hawaii Island.

    The 47-person CRED team he leads includes Planning and Development, Asset Management, Transactions and Portfolio Finance functions. His current work involves advancing plans for KS holdings in Mōʻiliʻili, Kapālama, Waipahu, Waiawa, Kāhala, Keauhou, Kaonohi and Kāneʻohe; creating portfolio value and income to support the educational mission; connecting student learning to business and work opportunities; and creating communities through thoughtful planning and strategic partnerships.

    Employed at KS for 23 years, he has previously held roles of Chief of Staff to the CEO, and Director of Facilities Development & Support. He has been involved in major projects such as the development of Kakaʻako, the Kā Pua Initiative in Waiʻanae, and the development of the Maui and Hawaii Campuses.

    A 1984 alumnus of Kamehameha Schools, he went on to graduate from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, School of Architecture and is a licensed architect who worked in private practice for 7 years prior to joining Kamehameha Schools.

Click here to read the Pacific Business News interview with Bettina Mehnert on our Strategic Advisory Board.