The mission of the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawai‘i (ALFH) is to provide leadership development opportunities for people committed to strengthening Hawaii’s agriculture.

ALFH was founded in 1982 in response to the major shift away from plantation agriculture in Hawai‘i. This shift critically affected nearly every sector and in particular the small agribusinesses which formed the emerging foundation of the industry. Through the foresight of several key leaders in the agricultural industry, ALFH, the only leadership organization in the state focused on agriculture, was created. These leaders, led by Monty Richards, Yoshi Watanabe, Dr. Tadashi Higaki, Slim Takayama and Jane Yamashiro acted on their vision of building a cadre of leaders to help support business people and their businesses during the important transition from plantation to diversified agriculture.

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Agricultural Leadership Program

With initial support from the Kellogg Foundation and the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo the program was launched in 1982. In 1986 the Foundation partnered with UH-CTAHR and Dr. Donna R. Ching coordinated and delivered the training activities. For the next 20 years, Donna developed the program into a multidisciplinary, well-networked program. Acting on a strategic plan developed by the board in 2005, a full time Executive Director, Kim Coffee-Isaak, was hired in 2006 and a strategic fundraising plan was put into place. In 2007 the Foundation celebrated its 25th Anniversary on the island of Hawai‘i with workshops, story telling and fellowship. In 2009 ALFH contracted with Pauline Sato as Program Director in order to begin a succession plan pending Dr. Ching’s retirement. Donna and Pauline co-directed Class XIII and Peter Adler was brought on to teach the leadership components for Class XIV. Kim Coffee-Isaak left the organization in August 2014 to start her own business and Lisa Soong was hired as an Administrative Coordinator. For Class XV (2015-16) Pauline directed the program with Peter Adler and Donna Ching conducted leadership training.

Currently the Agricultural Leadership Program has trained more than 190 professionals from across the state. These alumni have formed a strong network and many individuals are actively serving in leadership roles for their industry and community organizations as well as the overall agricultural sector.

Hawai‘i Agriculture Conference

The Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawai‘i also hosts the statewide Hawai‘i Agriculture Conference. Conferences were held in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2019. Prior to 2008, ALFH was a sponsoring partner of the conference along with Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation, Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture and UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Stay up to date on conference happenings.

Youth Leadership

In 2015, ALFH received a grant from the City and County of Honolulu to develop and implement a scholarship program for youth. Read more about the Youth Agricultural Leadership Program. Although this program was only funded for one year, ALFH’s commitment to youth leadership has not ended. In fact, ALFH has continued to work with programs like the Future Farmers of America to provide leadership opportunities for youth. In 2017, over 60 students and their advisors attended the Hawai‘i Agriculture Conference where they participated in sessions and hosted a special youth leadership panel. Over 80 students attended the 2019 Hawai‘i Agriculture Conference. ALFH is committed to continuing its work with the next generation.

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Kim & Lisa Transitions
Kim Coffee-Isaak & Lisa Soong