Hawai'i conservation alliance

2010 Outstanding Leadership Award

Mark Fox

Director of External Affairs at the Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i

Outstandingleadership_markfoxtncThere is no one in Hawai‘i who impacts, from mauka to makai, conservation on so many levels in our state. Whether talking to media about efforts to restore Maunalua Bay on O‘ahu or meeting with U.S. Senators on the effect of invasive species and the need for tighter regulation and more funding, Mark Fox has been instrumental in moving conservation forward in our islands for many years. Though his position is Director of External Affairs at the Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i, Mark does not limit his involvement to just TNC but focuses on critical statewide issues which benefit multiple partners and the larger conservation community. He provides insightful leadership defined by collaboration and inclusiveness with an open and friendly manner that invites engagement by a range of people, from a field technician to legislator. Despite his many responsibilities and more than full plate, he is always one of the first to volunteer his expertise and resources to galvanize initiatives for the betterment of conservation. In addition, he is a wonderful father who, despite his hectic work, can often be found dropping off his daughter at school or picking up his son from soccer practice and making dinners together. Some key highlights of how Mark has impacted conservation statewide include:

  • Saving the Natural Area Reserve and Legacy Land Funds from being zeroed out in FY10 and FY11. These funds are the core funding for critical statewide conservation initiatives such as the Watershed Partnerships, Natural Area Partnership Program, Youth Conservation Corp, the Natural Area Reserve, Forest Stewardship, and the Legacy Land Program;
  • Leading a successful campaign to ban gillnet fishing in the state;
  • Shepherding through the federal system the Hawai‘i Restoration and Conservation Initiative, an initiative on par with the Everglades and Chesapeake Bay Restorations, to bring critical federal funding for the restoration of native ecosystems and species to the state;
  • Playing an instrumental role in passing the Legacy Lands Act which established sustainable funding for land acquisition in the state and continuing to help local land trusts at the federal level with advancing Hawai‘i initiatives;
  • Working on streamlining the state regulatory process in order to promote speedy administration of conservation projects;
  • Serving in many leadership capacity roles including Chair of the Hawai‘i Association of Watershed Partnerships, Chair of the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, serving on the state’s Climate Change Task Force, and speaking at numerous conferences, workshops, and symposia on the need for conserving native ecosystems.

Mark is truly outstanding as he understands the big picture of what actions are required to move conservation forward for all of Hawai‘i (rather than be restricted to what just benefits his organization). His willingness to lend a hand and make time with his characteristic smile, humble demeanor, positive attitude, and open ear are what make him not only an effective leader, but one that is respected, admired, and liked by so many, both inside and outside of conservation.

Originally from the Island of Hawai‘i, Mark received his undergraduate and law degrees from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. Mark practiced law with the Carlsmith law firm in Honolulu. He then joined the Washington staff of U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye in handling issues related to the environment, agriculture, rural community development, energy and water development, the Pacific island territories, and justice and the federal judiciary. In 2000, Mark joined The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i.

No one exemplifies exceptional leadership in advancing environmental conservation in Hawai‘i more than Mark Fox. Awarding him the Outstanding Leadership Award is a testament to HCA’s commitment to conservation in Hawai‘i.