More than 65 attendees came together at College Hill on December 2 to celebrate University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa alumni thought leaders in the areas of food and farming. Guests sampled delicious food from Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi and heard from speakers including Gary Maunakea-Forth, farm operations director and co-founder of MA‘O Organic Farms; Amy Hennessey, director of communications at Ulupono Initiative; and Amanda Corby-Noguchi, founder of Under My Umbrella and co-founder of The Pili Group.
Chancellor Bley-Vroman stated that he was proud of UHM alumni numbering over 168,000 in more than 60 countries around the world and very pleased that so many UH alumni are considered thought leaders in their respective industries. He outlined the important role that UH Mānoa has had in food and farming innovations for more than 100 years, with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), the original land grant college, being at the forefront of preserving Hawai‘i’s heirloom crops as well as recovering and rediscovering papaya crops.
The Chancellor also recognized alumni influencers in the Hawai‘i food and farming sectors including: Paul Yokota, president of FCH Enterprises; Dr. Barry M. Brennan, UHM professor emeritus and extension agrosecurity coordinator; Fred Lau, owner of Mari’s Gardens; Dr. Diane Ragone, director of the Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden; Melissa Chang, vice president of AdStreamz Inc. and writer for many publications and online forums including Frolic Hawaii; and Ashley Lukens, program director at the Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety.
The night was the first in a series of events to highlight and profile UHM alumni across different sectors and industries.