State Director, Hawaii and Palmyra
When Ulalia Woodside took the helm as Hawai‘i executive director in 2016, she felt as if she had been preparing for the job her entire life. The daughter of a wildlife biologist and a Hawaiian cultural practitioner, she grew up in a family dedicated to protecting the environment. “Conservation is what we did,” she says. “It’s what I know and what I’ve made my life’s calling.”
Woodside served as director of natural and cultural resources at Kamehameha Schools, the state’s largest private landowner, prior to coming to TNC. She was also a member of the State Board of Land and Natural Resources, a past commissioner of the Hawai‘i Natural Area Reserve System, and a kumu hula, or teacher of hula, a tradition passed down from her mother at age three.
Following graduation from Honolulu’s Punahou School, Woodside worked as an intern and later a land agent with the Hawai‘i State Department of Land and Natural Resources, where she gained a broad understanding of land tenure and ownership in Hawai‘i.
At the University of Hawai‘i, she earned undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Hawaiian Studies and completed graduate coursework in Urban and Regional Planning, then went to work in the private sector, doing everything from cultural and environmental assessments to masterplan developments. In 2002, she joined Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division, and during her 14-year tenure there rose to regional director, responsible for a 200,000-acre portfolio and the natural and cultural resources programs.
As Hawai‘i executive director, Woodside oversees forest and marine conservation programs on five islands and a climate change research laboratory at Palmyra Atoll. She resides in the community of Waimanalo in windward O‘ahu and during her spare times enjoys serving on community organization boards, hula, hiking and traveling.