Our Team

Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi
Executive Director

Denise Yamaguchi currently serves as Executive Director for the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation and also serves as the Principal of Denise Hayashi Consulting (DHC), LLC, a fundraising and governmental affairs consulting practice. Prior to founding DHC, Yamaguchi was the Director of Community Relations for NCL America where she oversaw government and community relations, particularly on the neighbor islands. From 1998 - 2005, Yamaguchi held the position of Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs for Bishop Museum where she provided strategic direction for revenue generating operations.

 

Melissa Rhoden  
HAF Ag Park at Kunia Property Manager

Melissa Rhoden’s love of the outdoors and fresh produce inspires her work as Land Manager for the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation’s Ag Park at Kunia.  Melissa’s fascination with farming started during her childhood in Maryland, where she spent summers on a friend’s 50-acre farm.  She developed an appreciation for farm fresh vegetables and fruits that guide her work with HAF and its Community Supported Agriculture program ‘Local Inside.’ Melissa values helping small O‘ahu farms find new markets for their produce with a farm to consumer approach that’s close to her heart.  Plus, she loves experimenting with her ‘Local Inside’ bounty with a simple preparation that plays up the full flavors that come from locally-grown ripe produce.   


Iris Miziguchi
Director of Education Programs

Iris Miziguchi is passionate about working with students and teachers as Director of Education Programs for the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation.  The career educator has 40 years of experience under her belt, including the last three years in Career and Technical Education working with student organizations like Future Farmers of America.  It was an awakening of her “Aloha Aina,” or love for the land, that brought her to HAF.  The opportunity to work with teachers and watch living things grow, whether it’s students and their teachers, plants, or animals, was in her words “too amazing to pass on.”  For Iris, she’s done her job if she sees the spark alight in teachers' as well as their students' eyes!

Kalei Akaka
Education Assistant

Kalei Akaka brings a passion for people, education, and farming to her role as Education Assistant for the Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation.  A communications degree and background in public relations led her into community service, working at the State Legislature with a focus on Higher Education.  These days, she’s excited to educate children in elementary schools about the importance of sustainability and agriculture through synergy between local farmers, restaurants and students.  The most rewarding part of her role is visiting classrooms and seeing the excitement in students’ eyes as they connect where their food comes from with what they’re learning as part of HAF programs like Veggie U.


Teri Matsukawa
Finance Adviser

Teri Matsukawa serves as the Finance Adviser to the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation.  Teri’s role is a natural extension of her consulting practice and professional background working with Not for Profit clients as CPA with Big Four accounting firm KPMG.  Growing up on Kauai, Teri’s dad had a chicken farm and grew anthuriums as “a half business, half hobby.”  She enjoyed helping her dad in the garden, where they harvested local favorites like guava and lilikoi and staples such as corn, sweet potato and green onions which she admits she didn’t always appreciate as a child but does now as an adult.  Teri loves being part of the team promoting the HAF mission in the community.