The Kohala Center recently named Rev. Puanani Burgess of Waianae, Oahu, to its board of directors. Burgess is a mediator, community organizer, cultural translator, and Zen priest. In September, Burgess was recognized by the Pacific Buddhist Academy as a 2013 Lighting Our Way honoree, citing her ability to recognize the gifts of others. In 2009, Burgess was among five people named as Hawaii’s Living Treasures.
She has been a lecturer with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaii, where she was the first “Community Scholar in Residence.” She is on the board of directors for the Positive Futures Network, the publisher of YES! Magazine, and was the Miles and Zilphia Horton chairholder for Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tenn.
Burgess has helped develop several community-based organizations including: Ka‘ala Farm, Inc., a taro and ‘aina-based cultural learning center in Waianae; Hoa‘Aina O Makaha, an ‘aina-based cultural and agricultural learning center in Makaha; Hale Na‘au Pono, a Waianae Coast Community Mental Health Center; Puʻa Foundation, the only Native Hawaiian foundation in Hawaii; Legal Services for Children; and Waianae Coast Community Alternative Development Corporation.