The Malama Kai Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors who contribute their time to the organization. The Board works with diverse partners to achieve the organization's marine education and conservation goals, with specific programs implemented by project managers.
Candee Ellsworth, Executive Director
Candee is the current Executive Director of Malama Kai Foundation. She has spent over 25 years working in the field of conservation, conservation education and community outreach. She also serves as the Executive Director of Friends of NELHA and volunteers for a variety of community organizations, including as a member of the Hawaii Island Festival of Birds Planning Committee, the webmaster for the Board of West Hawaii Community Forums, co-chair of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce’s Sustainability Committee, a member of the Large Whale Disentanglement Group for West Hawaii, and a Pono Pledge ambassador for the Island of Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau.
Candee worked for nearly 20 years of her career as a Conservation Biologist at the Toledo Zoo for a variety of endangered species recovery projects. Her focus was on island biodiversity/island ecosystems and conservation science, but she has had a lifelong interest in conservation, sustainability, preserving biodiversity and educating other to do so as well. In the past, she has worked as an adjunct professor, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses for several universities, as well as serving as a reviewer on the University of Toledo’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). In her spare time, she also did private ecological consulting work on a variety of conservation projects throughout the West Indies.
She resides in Holualoa with her husband and two pampered, rescue mutts. She enjoys anything ocean related, nature and reading lots of books.
Carolyn Stewart, President
Carolyn is President of Malama Kai Foundation and has provided foundational leadership and inspiration since its inception. She is also the Vice President and a principal consultant for Marine and Coastal Solutions International, Inc., a small consulting firm specializing in planning, management and policy analysis for marine and coastal resources.
Teri Leicher, Vice-President
Ms. Leicher is an owner of Jack’s Diving Locker, an ocean recreation company in Kailua-Kona. She has been active in coastal and reef protection issues in West Hawaiʻi and throughout Hawaiʻi for over 20 years, and played a key role in the development of the Hawaiʻi Day-Use Mooring Program and in the installation and maintenance of day-use moorings along the coast of West Hawaiʻi.
Victoria Martocci, secretary
Victoria is a trainer, educator, and Operations Manager at Extended Horizons Scuba on Maui, where she has been an active part of Maui's conservation community since 1998. She is also the project manager for Maui's Day-Use Mooring Program, where you might see her captaining the mooring repair boat, or even hopping in the water to change out tackle on one of the moorings!
Riley Coon, board member
Captain Riley E. Coon, is a 3rd generation member of the sailing Coon Family, founders of Trilogy Excursions established in 1973. In Riley’s current role as both a Captain and Director of Operations, he likes to involve Captains and Crew in learning about and helping out with the Day Use mooring buoy program. Many of the mooring lines used around Maui have been spliced by Trilogy crew! Being Born and Raised on Maui and working in the ocean activity industry from a young age has given him a deep appreciation for Maui’s ocean resource. Riley is Married to Jenny Coon, and has a 1-year old daughter, Kaia. Riley has also served on the Board of Directors for the Lahaina Restoration Foundation since 2014.
Christopher Hawkins, board member
Christopher Hawkins has spent more than two decades in the coastal management field. He has broad experience in the principles of coastal marine ecology and artisanal fisheries and expertise in conservation planning and monitoring, human dimensions research, and program evaluation. His approach to resource conservation is rooted in a social values model and he has worked for local and federal government agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in Marine Environmental Management and Safety from Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He earned his Master’s degree in Tropical Coastal Management from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom and a Ph.D. in Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Matthew Bogdanovich, board member
Matt grew up loving winter sports in the north country of New York State. He got his scuba certification when he was thirteen through school and that stuck with him for years. He moved to Hawaii after graduating from the University of Puget Sound in 2008 with a BA in Studio Art with his girlfriend at the time (now his wife). They have worked at Jack’s Diving Locker since 2009 and Matt has pursued all aspects of the business. He is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, PADI Freediver Instructor, USCG Captain, and Charter Operations Manager.
He has served as Treasurer on the Hawaiian Islands Scuba Association (HIRSA) since 2014. He has been involved with the Day Use Mooring program on the Big Island by installing and maintaining moorings for most of his professional scuba career.
Kater Hiney, Project Manager
Kater Hiney is the Day-Use Mooring Buoy project coordinator.
Kater has been involved with MKF Day-Use Mooring Buoys since 2007. Kater holds a B.A. in Marine Science and M.S. in Animal Science and has been working within the marine conservation and education programs in Hawaii since 1994.