Haleakalā Conservancy Hires Maui Native Olena Alec as First Executive Director
Haleakalā Conservancy’s Board of Directors hired Maui native Olena (Horcajo) Alec as its first Executive Director.
Olena most recently worked for The Climate Reality Project in Washington, DC, where she served as the director of engagement, overseeing the support and strategy of tens of thousands of global climate activists for seven years.
Olena was born and raised on Maui and is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), having served in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from USC and a Master in Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University.
Haleakalā Conservancy, a nonprofit created in 2019, is devoted to raising funds to support critical projects of conservation, preservation and education within Haleakalā National Park.
To date, the organization has been run by a committed board of directors, all with a deep passion for Haleakalā and desire to support the park above and beyond what their annual budget can sustain, according to the organization’s news release.
Board members J Scott Meidell (President), Jac Kean (Vice President), Dale Bonar (Treasurer), Colleen Medeiros (Secretary), Donna Howard, Erik McClellan, Wendy Rice Peterson and Jamie Woodburn created the conservancy to be the philanthropic partner of the park, inspiring present and future generations to support preservation projects and programs.
Haleakalā National Park spans more than 33,000 acres and is home to more endangered species than any other national park in the United States as well as preserving critical culturally significant resources. Like many other national parks, not all the staff’s desired projects can come to fruition, and that is where Haleakalā Conservancy intends to fill the gaps, supporting park-directed projects in the three pillar areas of conservation, preservation and education.
Superintendent of Haleakalā National Park, Natalie Gates, said: “I am so thankful that such a committed group of members of the Maui community has volunteered to take on the role of raising additional funds for Haleakalā National Park. Park staff work tirelessly to maintain and steward the Park, and there are always opportunities for further research, education and conservation of this spectacular place.”
While 2020 demanded a slower approach to building out the philanthropic non-profit, early 2021 was the ideal time to begin to ramp up efforts, starting with hiring an Executive Director. Alec joins the organization with a strong background in environmental education and outreach and lifelong love of the park.
“Haleakalā National Park has been a source of endless memories from my childhood, whether hiking through the crater with my family or camping out in Kīpahulu,” Alec said. “The park has served as an integral part of my formative years, catalyzing my desire to protect and preserve our natural world. It is my honor to have the opportunity to give back, quite literally, to the park.”
Conservancy President of the Board J Scott Meidell said: “Olena Alec comes to us with prodigious experience with a nationally recognized environmental non-profit organization and the passion of a born-and-raised child of Maui that has come home to take care of the mountain that nurtured her.”
The Executive Director hiring comes as the Conservancy implements a plan of strategic growth in development and outreach, with a list of exciting priority projects they hope to fund this year to begin their direct support of the Park.
“As Executive Director, I am looking forward to leading Haleakalā Conservancy’s philanthropic efforts to provide funding for projects of critical importance to Haleakalā National Park, from supporting internships for local youth to protecting our endemic bird population,” Alec said “I am excited to advance the mission of the Conservancy, making a positive difference for the Park and the greater community here on Maui.”
To learn more about the Haleakalā Conservancy, visit haleakalaconservancy.org.