Celeste Connors has twenty years of experience working at the intersection of economic, environment, energy, and international development policy. Before joining Hawai‘i Green Growth, she was CEO and co-founder of cdots development LLC, which works to build resilient infrastructure systems and services in vulnerable communities. Celeste previously served as the Director for Environment and Climate Change at the National Security Council and National Economic Council in the White House where she helped shape the Administration’s climate and energy policies, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prior to joining the White House, Celeste served as a diplomat in Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Germany. She also held positions at the U.S. Mission to the UN, served as the Climate and Energy Advisor to the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and worked for City of New York.
Celeste is a Senior Adjunct Fellow at the East-West Center and was a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in the Energy, Resources and Environment Program. She holds an MSc in Development Studies from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University. Celeste has served on numerous boards including her current service on Hawaiian Electric Industries, the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), the Institute for Sustainability and Resilience at the University of Hawaii and Icebreaker One. She previously served on the Board of America’s Service Commissions, the IUCN World Conservation Congress National Host Committee, and was a Term Member on the Council on Foreign Relations. Celeste grew up in Kailua, O‘ahu.
Director of Operations & Partnerships
Breanna Rose is Hawai‘i Green Growth’s Director of Operations and Partnerships, and has supported the statewide network since it was founded in 2011. She has worked with network-based initiatives for nearly a decade to advance local and global impact through collaborative action. She is President of the Board of Directors for Kanu Hawai‘i, a non-profit working to build more compassionate and resilient communities, including with annual Volunteer Week which is Hawai‘i’s largest volunteer focused campaign. Breanna has worked with diverse sustainability organizations and initiatives, including the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress Hawai‘i program committee, O‘ahu Resilience Strategy working groups, and City and County of Honolulu Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan advisory committee, as well as the Green House Hawai‘i and Institute for Human Services agricultural and education programs, Paepae o He‘eia, and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Breanna was selected for the Obama Foundation’s inaugural Asia Pacific Leaders program as one of two-hundred emerging leaders representing over thirty countries, states, and territories across the region, and recognized as part of the Pacific Business News’ 2020 class of “40 Under 40” honorees. Breanna is a graduate of the University of San Francisco, and was born and raised on Maui.
Program & Strategic Initiatives Coordinator
Laura Kam is Hawai‘i Green Growth’s program coordinator and supports the partnership’s statewide network, meetings and events, and strategic initiatives. She completed a year of service with Hawai‘i Green Growth through AmeriCorps VISTA in partnership with Kupu Hawai‘i and the AmeriCorps Program. Laura has her Bachelors in Political Science with a minor in Environmental Affairs from Colorado State University, and studied Russian for a year before returning to Hawai‘i. Laura previously interned with Amnesty International USA, and has volunteered with the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, The Nature Conservancy at Kamakou and Mo‘omomi Preserves, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Midway Atoll. She currently volunteers in public outreach for the National Marine Fisheries Service Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program. Laura is from O‘ahu, and graduated from Kalani High School.
Josh Sawislak, AICP
Josh Sawislak is an internationally recognized expert on sustainability and climate and disaster resilience. He holds concurrent appointments as an Associate of Argonne National Laboratory, a Senior Advisor to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), and a professional affiliate of the Center Urban and Environmental Solutions (CUES) at Florida Atlantic University as well as the chief sustainability officer of several early-stage startups. Josh served in the Obama White House as the Associate Director for Climate Preparedness at the Council on Environmental Quality, where he helped develop the executive order on federal sustainability. He also served as a senior advisor to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), on President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, and on the White House response coordination team for the H1N1 influenza pandemic (2009-2010). Josh practiced as an environmental and transportation planner for over 25 years and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He earned a degree in political science from The George Washington University and a certificate in infrastructure development from the Harvard Kennedy School. He serves on the board of directors and is an advisor to several other organizations and programs in support of sustainability and resilience.
VISTAs and Fellows
Sustainability Dashboard VISTA
Megan Hickinbotham supports the Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard data, innovation and outreach initiatives as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Originally from Wisconsin, Megan has worked in the sustainability and community outreach field for two years, including conducting climate research on lake sediment cores and organizing multiple student led climate strikes. She studied abroad in Costa Rica, and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse with a BS in Geography and Environmental Science.
Local-Global Communications VISTA
Ariana Caruso supports local-global communications through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. She has a BS in Marketing and a minor in Sustainability Leadership from Penn State University. During her time as a student, Ariana spent eight weeks in Hawaiʻi studying the intersections of sustainability and culture on both Oahu and Hawaiʻi Island. Originally from New Jersey, Ariana returned home following graduation and interned in New York with the United Nations Development Programme supporting communications for SDG Integration.
Sustainability Business Forum VISTA
Hannah supports the Sustainability Business Forum as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Originally from California, Hannah went to the Bronx, NY to earn her BA in Economics and Spanish at the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Before graduating college, Hannah served as the President of Model United Nations, studied abroad in Seville, Spain, and analyzed data at the Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research. She also interned with the Department of State at the US Mission to the UN where she assisted the operations of the Economic and Social Section Affairs Section.
Julius Fischer is a Global Fellow with Hawaiʻi Green Growth’s Sustainability Dashboard and the Sustainability Business Forum. Before joining HGG, he worked for the Hawaiʻi State Senate Transportation and Energy Committee. Previously, he was a Fellow for the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), a voluntary partnership of islands across the globe that catalyzes action on resilient and sustainable island communities by mobilizing high-level political leadership. Born and raised in Germany, he has lived in New Zealand, Japan, and Micronesia. Julius holds a BA in International Relations and BS in Earth Systems from Stanford University, and a Master in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Global Outreach and Communications Associate
Kiara Kealoha is a global outreach and communications associate with the HGG Local2030 Hub, and completed a Master’s degree at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 2018. She previously served at as the Communications Coordinator for HGG, as well as worked with KYA Sustainability and as an education project assistant for the Climate-KIC Switzerland. Kiara completed her undergraduate education at Harvard University, obtaining a degree in History and Science with a secondary field in Environmental Science and Public Policy. Kiara is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, and was born and raised on the island of O‘ahu.
Alison Rhatigan is a global fellow with the HGG Local2030 Hub, and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Finance at the Norwegian School of Economics. She previously served as HGG’s Local-Global Communications Specialist through the AmeriCorps VISTA Program and worked with the non-profit Repowering London on projects promoting renewable energy, green spaces, and sustainable communities. Alison received her BBA in International Business and Japanese from Chapman University, and spent a year at City, University of London where she designed a Certificate in Sustainability. Alison is from O’ahu and graduated from Punahou School.