Miwa Tamanaha is a descendant of Hawaiʻi’s issei generation of plantation workers, who came to the Hawaiian Islands from Okinawa and Japan in the late 19th and early 20th century. Miwa’s parents relocated to Los Angeles, where they met and married, and where she was born, raised, and learned to surf. She eventually attended the University of Southern California on scholarship (mahalo USC!) and graduated with a B.A./M.A. in economics. She worked in and around natural resource policy and protection for about 10 years in California, Baja Mexico, and Tanzania, before moving to Hawaiʻi in her late 20s to serve as executive director of local advocacy organization KAHEA. Today, she is the deputy director of Kua’āina Ulu ʻAuamo, or KUA, a Hawaiʻi non-profit committed to nurturing natural resource management approaches that are community-based, rooted in traditional ecological knowledge, and led by the people who hold and steward that knowledge. Her experiences in Hawaiʻi have deeply shaped her work, outlook and practice, and she continues to learn daily from many amazing folks around her. She shares today with the permission of her teachers. In 2013, the National Audubon Society selected Miwa as a Toyota TogetherGreen Fellow, a fellowship program working to build diverse and committed conservation leadership.
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