Climate Change Commissioners sworn in






Honolulu – A swearing in ceremony was held today in Honolulu Hale for the five members of the new Climate Change Commission: Rosanna ‘Anolani Alegado, Makena Coffman, Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher, Victoria Keener, and Bettina Mehnert. Mayor Kirk Caldwell appointed all five commission members, who were confirmed by the Honolulu City Council earlier in the day.

Mayor Caldwell, Managing Director Roy K. Amemiya Jr. and Deputy Managing Director Georgette Deemer attended the ceremony after the oath of office was administered to the five commission members, thus affirming their positions as officers of the city.

The Climate Change Commission was created after O‘ahu voters approved an amendment to the City Charter in the 2016 general election that mandated the creation of the new panel. The role of the Climate Change Commission is to gather the latest science and information on climate change impacts to Hawai‘i and provide advice and recommendations to Mayor Caldwell, executive departments and the City Council as they look to draft policy and engage in planning for future climate scenarios.

“The five members of the Climate Change Commission are experts in their respective fields and will have a tremendous impact on our island city as we embark on a new era of sustainability and resiliency in the face of sea level rise and increased storm risk,” said Mayor Caldwell. “I thank each of them for taking on this volunteer role and I know their hard work will result in progress that will benefit our residents for decades to come.”

Commission members have agreed to meet at least once every month with the first meeting scheduled on Wednesday, February 7, at 3 p.m. in the City Council Meeting Room in Honolulu Hale.

“Our office is thrilled that Mayor Caldwell has selected a diverse group of global and local climate experts to this important commission and that the City Council confirmed all of them unanimously,” said Josh Stanbro, executive director of the city’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, who also serves as the city’s Chief Resilience Officer. “It is critical that we base our policies on data and the latest science in order to protect our quality of life and O‘ahu’s economy for the long-term.”


Climate Change Commission members:

Rosanna ‘Anolani Alegado, PhD

Rosie Alegado’s lab investigates the role of microbes across spatial and temporal scales. By bringing together microbial ecologists and biogeochemists her group examines the influence of microbial communities on coastal ocean processes, especially in light of a changing climate. A recent project in her lab involves using indigenous historical records to reconstruct Hawaiian regional climate beyond conventional instrument records in collaboration with the International Pacific Research Center and Puakea Nogelmeier at the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language.

Makena Coffman, PhD

Makena Coffman is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her research interests include greenhouse gas mitigation, energy policy and alternative transportation strategies. Coffman is a Research Fellow with the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) and has worked extensively with state and county governments on issues of greenhouse gas policy and climate action planning. 

Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher, PhD

Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and Professor of Geology and Geophysics. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses emphasizing Earth Science and Climate Change on Pacific Islands. Over 30 graduate and undergraduate students have received degrees in his research group. Fletcher engages in community service and is the recipient of several awards, including the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching (twice), the U.S. EPA Environmental Achievement Award in Climate Change Science, the Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation Award for Faculty Service to the Community, and the Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service. Fletcher is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.

Victoria Keener, PhD

Victoria Keener is the Lead Principal Investigator of the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program, and earned a PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Florida, specializing in hydro-climatological research dealing with the effects of climate variability. Keener coordinates an interdisciplinary team of social and physical scientists that aims to reduce the vulnerability of Pacific Island communities to climate change by translating academic research into actionable knowledge for a variety of stakeholders at the local, state, and regional level – especially regarding the management of fresh water resources. She is the Lead Editor and a Chapter Author for the 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) report and the lead author of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the forthcoming 4th U.S. National Climate Assessment.

Bettina Mehnert, FAIA, LEED AP O+M

A sustainability-focused community business leader, Bettina Mehnert is president and CEO of the design firm AHL and has multiple national leadership roles with the Urban Land Institute, and locally with Hawaiʻi Green Growth, the Sustainable Business Forum and the Aloha + Challenge. Under her leadership AHL has been recognized as a top firm nationally and locally, including being named by the publication Engineering News-Record as one of the top 100 Green firms in the U.S. She was also instrumental in launching AHL’s one percent Pro Bono Program, where nonprofits receive pro bono architectural services that result in significant advancement of programs such as the Rain Forest Pavilion for the Hawai‘i Nature Center and the Rooftop Food and Job Training Garden for the Institute for Human Services.

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