Track A Speakers

Track A Speakers

Ryan T. Okahara,
HUD Honolulu Field Office Director

Ryan Okahara is the Honolulu Field Office Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He has over 20 years of management experience in the public sector, private sector and military. He most recently served as Deputy Comptroller for the State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Accounting and General Services and also as acting Chief Information Officer while he established the Office of Information Management & Technology to revamp the state government’s technology processes and infrastructure. He previously worked as Vice President of Organizational Development at First Insurance Company of Hawai‘i and Pihana Pacific, a Hawai‘i based technology start-up. Mr. Okahara is also a Colonel in the Hawai‘i Air National Guard and currently serves as the Commander of the 154th Mission Support Group. He was born and raised in Honolulu, graduated from Moanalua High School, received his bachelor’s degree in Math and Physics from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, and has master’s degrees in management and human resources development.

Asia Yeary, 
U.S. EPA Hawai‘i Sustainability Coordinator and Grants Project Officer

Asia Yeary works for the U.S. EPA Region 9 as the Hawaii Sustainability Coordinator and Grants Project Officer. In the last two years, she helped solicit and award over $3 million in EPA grant money to local Hawaii organizations to work on clean energy, climate change, and sustainability projects. Asia co-founded the RISE program ( and continues to lead, support, and grow the program. She is also working to promote alternative transportation options and healthy community planning. Asia is hopeful that through collaborative efforts and creative solutions, Hawaii will become more sustainable and less dependent on imports.

Elizabeth E Fischer, RLA, ASLA, APA, IAEM,
U.S. DOT FHWA Hawai‘i Emergency Coordinator

Liz Fischer is a Registered Landscape Architect who has worked in the area of community planning throughout her career on issues specific to rural areas, small communities, and tribal governments and in special topic areas for communities including place-making, livability, smart growth, active-living through design, context sensitive design, historic preservation, climate adaptation, and disaster recovery planning.

She heads transportation planning and emergency management and implementation for the USDOT-FHWA in the State of Hawaii, and the US Territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands (a geophysical area twice the size of the lower 48 States).

Aaron Britt,
Deputy Editor, Dwell magazine

Aaron Britt is a Deputy Editor at Dwell, where he has worked for the past five years. He also serves as the Content Director for the company’s annual conference Dwell on Design. Since 2008 he has written the men’s style column “The Pocket Square” in the San Francisco Chronicle and his writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic, Print Magazine, and on the History Channel.

Francis S. Oda, Arch.D., FAIA, AICP, LEED AP,
CEO of GreenPlace and Global Green Homes and Chairman of Group 70 International

Francis S. Oda is Chairman of Group 70 International, a design, sustainability and technology company with projects throughout the Pacific. He is CEO of GreenPlace and Global Green Homes, companies that provide high quality, low cost housing globally. He is also a board member and share holder in several technology companies including ThatsSolar and Strata Guam.

He received a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and a Doctor of Architecture from the University of Hawai‘i. He is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Hawaii, a Manoa Forum Fellow and a Distinguished Alumnus of the University.

Dr. Oda is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He was installed in the Hawai‘i Business Hall of Fame and has received the Humanitarian Award of the Hawaii Chapter of the AIA.

Dr. Oda is Senior Pastor of New Life Church, Honolulu, a non-denominational Christian church. He serves as global Chair of the International Transformation Network, which is involved with transformational efforts in Africa, Asia, North and South America. He also serves on boards of Christian organizations.

Francis is married to Caroline Ward Oda. They have two children, Nalani and Reid.

James Koshiba,
Kanu Hawai‘i

James Koshiba is co-founder and executive director of Kanu Hawai‘i, working to build a social movement more environmentally sustainable, compassionate, and self reliant communities rooted in personal commitments to change. Members of Kanu commit to “being the change” they seek - taking specific actions that preserve and protect Hawai‘i’s unique way of life. In 4 years, the organization has built a membership of 16,000 spread across the Hawaiian islands, 300 mainland communities and 12 countries using unique online tools, social media, and grassroots education. It has also mobilized thousands of these members in campaigns like the Eat Local Challenge, the Energy Challenge, and the Zero Waste Challenge. You can learn more about Kanu Hawai‘i at

Dana Bourland,
Vice President
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.

Dana Bourland is Vice President of Green Initiatives for Enterprise Community Partners and leads environmental strategy for the national organization. Dana developed and oversees all aspects of Enterprise’s national award-winning Green Communities program including the next generation of the initiative focused on greening all affordable housing within this decade. Dana also created and oversees Enterprise’s multifamily retrofit program and serves as managing director of the Green Communities Offset Fund. A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Dana is a graduate of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and holds a Master of Planning Degree from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. She is a certified planner through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), a LEED Accredited Professional, a juror for the Smart and Sustainable Growth Recognition Program and was recently awarded a Residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagion Center.

Gwen S. Yamamoto Lau,
President, Hawai‘i Community Reinvestment Corporation

Gwen Yamamoto Lau is President of the Hawai‘i Community Reinvestment Corporation (HCRC), a 501(c)3 Hawai‘i non-profit corporation designated as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and a Community Development Entity (CDE) by the United States Department of Treasury.

HCRC’s mission and purpose is to facilitate affordable housing, community development and economic development throughout the state of Hawai‘i. HCRC accomplishes this by providing consulting services, technical assistance and below market rate, long-term financing for small business owners and for profit and nonprofit affordable housing developers. Since being organized in 1990, HCRC has provided over $198.0 million in resources available to more than 63 affordable rental housing projects containing over 3,300 rental units.

As a Certified Development Company, HCRC has been approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration to source and process SBA 504 loans. Additionally, HCRC has been contracted by the state of Hawai‘i to administer its GreenSun Hawai‘i program for energy efficiency/renewable energy financing.

Gwen has over 25 years of banking and finance experience as well as a strong commitment of service to our community through her active involvement with nonprofit and charitable organizations. Prior to joining HCRC, Yamamoto Lau served as President of the Hawai‘i Central Credit Union and Senior Vice President/Regional Manager with Central Pacific Bank. Born and raised in Hilo, Hawai‘i, Yamamoto Lau resides on the island of Oahu with her husband and children.

John Bendon,
Principal, Green Building LLC

John Bendon is a leader in Hawai‘i in the field of green building and energy efficiency. John was the LEED Accredited Professional who managed Maui’s first commercial LEED New Construction project, inspected and tested all of Maui’s certified LEED for Homes projects, and has worked on LEED EBOM and LEED ND projects in Hawai‘i. John has taught classes on most of the Hawaiian Islands on green building and energy efficiency including classes at the UH Maui College. Many of the classes that John has taught have never been taught in the State before.

John Bendon is a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty in LEED Homes. He is also Certified Energy Rater under RESNET, a Building Performance Institute Analyst, holds masters in Real Estate and Construction Management from the University of Denver, and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado. To learn more about John and his company Green Building LLC, please visit

Shelly R. Poticha,
Director, HUD Office of Sustainable Housing & Communities

Ms. Poticha serves as Senior Advisor for Sustainable Housing and Communities at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A well respected expert in growth management and urban policy, Poticha will be responsible for advancing housing and communities that promote affordable, livable and sustainable living environments. She will also provide technical and policy support for energy, green building, and integrated housing and transportation programs at HUD and around the nation. Poticha will also lead HUD’s interagency effort with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation to help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.

Poticha previously served as President and CEO of Reconnecting America, where she became a national leader for the reform of land use and transportation planning and policy with the goal of creating more sustainable and equitable development. Her work stimulated a national conversation about the role of transit in shaping communities and the importance of building diverse and inclusive neighborhoods.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Poticha was responsible for the first regional Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) policy that conditions the allocation of new transit funds on good land use planning. She also worked in Denver with the city and transit agency on a TOD Typology and Strategic Planning; in the Twin Cities to educate a broad coalition of community, business and government groups about the value of focusing the region’s growth in neighborhoods served by transit; and in Seattle where she helped define a funding program for construction of a new streetcar.

Prior to joining Reconnecting America, Poticha was the Executive Director of the Congress for the New Urbanism. In this role, she guided the organization’s growth into a national coalition with a prominent voice in national debates on urban revitalization, growth policy, and sprawl. She also launched a number of key initiatives addressing inter-city revitalization, mixed-income housing, infill development techniques, environmental preservation, alternative transportation policies, and real estate finance reform.

Poticha has co-authored The New Transit Town: Best Practices in Transit-Oriented Development, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Capturing the Demand for Housing Near Transit,” the Charter of New Urbanism, and The Next American Metropolis with Peter Calthorpe.

Poticha holds a Master of City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Terrance Ware,
City & County of Honolulu TOD Administrator

Terry was recently hired as the Manager for Transit-Oriented Development for the City & County of Honolulu. Terry has thirty plus years of experience in many facets of architecture, land development, planning and urban design - in academia, public and private sector practice. His specific areas of expertise are urban design, commercial and neighborhood redevelopment and transit. Prior to accepting the position in Honolulu, he worked for Mayor John Hickenlooper as the Director of Housing & Neighborhood Development, for the City & County of Denver.

Terry has been involved in several transit projects in cities across the United states including: Denver, CO.; Berkeley, Oakland, Sacramento and San Leandro, CA.; Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio; Pittsburgh, PA; Pinellas County & Hillsborough (Tampa Bay) County, FL; Charlotte, N.C.; Phoenix, AZ.; Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, GA., as a consultant for several national design firms.

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Conference Center

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