John Leong’s career is evidence of the determination and conviction it takes to see a vision through to fruition. He’s brought community partners together to shape Kupu into a flourishing nonprofit that trains and places youth in sustainability internships and job positions. His for-profit company, Pono Pacific, designs sustainable land-management solutions and works with businesses and landowners to implement natural resource projects. John attributes their continued success to his team’s shared vision. “It’s about retaining people who have a personal passion to make an impact and the heart and character to stick it out through tough times for the greater good,” he says. John’s ability to empower his team and weather instability are also important factors in the success of both organizations. “My hope is that we can create a training ground of champions for the betterment of society,” he continues.
At Kupu, he engages with more than 150 partners to develop youth into significant contributors to Hawai‘i’s green jobs workforce. Concurrently, Pono Pacific is growing its long-term land steward projects, which include developing revenue-generating initiatives for landowners focused on resiliency and sustainability. “Getting support and collaboration from partners with similar missions is highly integral to maintaining stability,” John says.