Duane DeSoto

Founder & CEO

Professional surfer Duane DeSoto is driven by the powerful advice he received from his father: kulia i ka nu’u – there is only one way to compete in all things – with excellence at your highest level.

Born and raised on the west side of Oahu at Makaha, DeSoto describes his teenage self as passionate and faithful – two attributes that would prove to shape his success in the sport of surfing as well as in his commitment to future public-spirited endeavors. He began traveling the world competing at the age of fifteen and in 2010, he was crowned the World Longboard Champion. On November 13, 2010 in Waimea, DeSoto was honored with the Professional Surfer Award at the 8th Annual John Kelly Environmental Awards for his work in enhancing the coastal community and environment through his organization, Nā Kama Kai.

A father of seven with a passion for education and giving back, DeSoto created Nā Kama Kai (Children of the Sea) – a non-profit organization that brings ocean-based safety and conservation programs directly to Hawaii’s youth. The mission of the program is to empower children to explore Hawaii values, culture, and environmental education. In addition to his work with Nā Kama Kai DeSoto first sailed on the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Hōkūleʻa in 2012 and continues sailing and engaging with maritime communities across the continents today.

Board of Directors

Bud Antonelis

George “Bud” Antonelis was employed by NOAA as a marine research biologist for 34 years and retired in January 2010.  During his career he conducted research on wide variety of marine mammals in arctic, temperate and tropical ecosystems.  As Chief of the Protected Species Division, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu for 14 years, much of his work focused on the research and recovery of the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal and other protected species. He obtained his BS and MS degrees at San Diego State University and a PhD at Nagasaki University.  In his retirement he remains passionate about conserving marine resources and inspiring young people to become responsible stewards of our ocean.

Mālia Ka‘aihue

Mālia Ka‘aihue is Partner and President of DTL (detail), the Hawaiian strategy studio she founded in 2014. Mālia previously worked for WCIT Architecture, Pacific Basin Communications and Office of Hawaiian Affairs. She attended the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa where she received a bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian Studies and Language, as well as her master’s and doctorate’s degree in Political Science. Using her expertise in Hawaiian history, politics and language, Mālia develops and executes strategies that are culturally appropriate, environmentally minded, and relevant to her clients at DTL. She currently serves as a board member for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Ānuenue, and Nā Kama Kai—an ocean safety non-profit she founded with her husband in 2008.

Nohealani Hirahara

Nohealani resides in Waimanalo, and has a background in electrical engineering and business, having recently earned her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. As a senior program manager for Hawaiian Electric’s Demand Response, Nohea is involved in innovative projects that help with reaching the states 100% renewables target by 2045. Nohea is also involved with other non-profits, including marketing, sponsorship and registration for Na Wahine o Ke Kai, an all woman’s outrigger race from Molokai to Oahu, and business development and communications for Papaku No Kamehaikana. Papaku provides Native Hawaiian activities for families that promote cultural practices.

Shawn Murakawa

Shawn Murakawa is a NOAA Fisheries employee for the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC)’s Protected Species Division. Her major responsibilities include researching growth rates and aging of sea turtles, coordinating PIFSC’s Endangered Species Act petitions, and managing the turtle database system. Shawn was born and raised on the island of Oʽahu. She graduated from Mililani High School and then the University of Hawaiʽi at Mānoa with a B.S. and M.S. in Animal Sciences. Some of the highlights of her work include traveling to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and to Rose Atoll in American Samoa. Shawn has always believed in giving back and has volunteered since she was 15. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and especially enjoys recreational shoreline fishing and raising succulents.

Carlyn Edward

Carolyn Edward grew up swimming, boating, and fishing on the Gulf Coast.  Her honeymoon in 1989 started a lifelong love affair with Hawaii.  Carolyn has spent her career in the retail industry, and worked as a General Manager for Bloomingdale’s in Chicago when they announced their newest store planned for Honolulu. Carolyn approached Bloomingdale’s and was thrilled to be transferred to Hawaii.  Bloomingdale’s selected Na Kama Kai as one of their opening charity partners in 2015 due to their commitment to conservation, education, and the children of Hawaii.  Carolyn loves the NKK mission and wanted to get more personally involved.  She is proud to have joined the Board of Directors in 2016, and looks forward to supporting NKK in the coming years.

Ben Kromer

Ben Komer is the second-generation owner/operator of Leahi Swim School.  Started in 1974 by his mother Lori, Ben has doubled the size of the operation and continues to look for opportunities to teach the people of Hawaii to swim.  Ben was an All American swimmer for the Pomona Pitzer swim team from 2000 thru 2002 in the sprint freestyle events.  He then came back to Hawaii and trained with the Kamehameha Swim Club for the 2004 Olympic Trials in which he missed his time cut.  Ben continues to share his love for the sport of swimming and the ocean by giving back to the community through various non-profits including Na Kama Kai and the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation.

Bill Pratt

Ron Tran

Ronald Tran is born and raised in Honolulu and calls Kaimuki his home. He is a Saint Louis Crusader Alum and earned his Masters in Accounting at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Ron is the Chief Financial Officer for WCIT Architecture, and previously worked at Pioneer Contracting in the same role. He has a passion for numbers (data) and anything technology related, and likes to help others using the two together. He enjoys spending time with family and appreciating “experiences” in life, particularly as it relates to food, he lives to eat.

Board of Advisors

  • Angela Correa-Pei – Attorney at Law
  • Rob Iopa – President/WCIT Architecture
  • Lydia Mertyris (MBA) – Work Process Leader, HECO
  • Brian Keaulana – Professional Waterman
  • Scott McPhail – Retired Restaurant Entrepreneur
  • Mecca Billings-Nelson – President/Billings Consulting Group
  • Keith Ogata – 3-K Financial Group
  • Layla Dedrick – CEO/Bella Pietra
  • Mary Correa – UHWO Instructor

Key Staff & Volunteers

  • Maile DeSoto – Ocean Clinic Administrator/Lifeguard
  • Anthony Aurely – Ocean Clinic Coordinator/Lifeguard
  • Makamae DeSoto – Ocean Clinic Lifeguard/Ocean Rescue
  • Julie Arias – Ocean Clinic Lifeguard/Ocean Safety Education
  • Jason Patterson – Ocean Clinic Polynesian Voyaging Society Education
  • Bruce DeSoto – Ocean Clinic Outrigger Canoe Specialist
  • Ronald DeSoto – Ocean Clinic Outrigger Canoe Specialist
  • Mike Town – Ocean Clinic Outrigger Canoe Specialist
  • Scott Demotta – Ocean Clinic First Responder
  • Todd Kamisugi – Ocean Clinic “Bubble Guy”
  • Haunani Kane – Alaka‘i Program Director
  • Colleen Holmes – Grant writer
  • Nohea Hirahara – Demographic Statistician