STORIESSHOP
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Meleana Estes, Creative Director

Meleana brings a style sensibility that fuses her native home with her myriad of experience from living and working in New York City and abroad. A fresh voice on modern Hawaiian style, she is internationally recognized for both her flower artistry and fashion work with Hawaii-based design houses.

Brian Halweil, CG Ventures Portfolio Manager

With 25 years of experience covering the evolving global food chain and as Portfolio Manager of food and agriculture impact funds Brian is committed to developing sustainable food systems that celebrate local culture and traditions.  As a former Senior Advisor with TPG Rise, Brian has extensive experience with food and agriculture impact funds, with a specific focus on regenerative agriculture. For the past 25 years he has been covering the evolving global food chain, as an author, researcher, and storyteller. He currently holds board positions at Foodtank and East End Food Institute, and serves as an advisor to Food-X and FTW.

Uncle Jack Gushiken, Common Ground Irrigation Systems

Uncle Jack Gushiken has been managing the water resources and irrigation systems for the area where Common Ground is located for nearly 60 years.  He previously managed the irrigation systems for Kilauea Sugar Plantation and Guava Kai Plantation.  He is a record-holding fisherman and Kilauea historian.

Gordon Karau, Director of Development

Gordon has extensive master-planned community design and development experience in Hawaii, Mexico and Costa Rica.  His projects include Kukuiula, a 1010 acre community which set the standard for luxury development on Kauai.  Gordon earned his graduate degree at MIT and did his thesis on sustainable real estate development.

Koa, Chief Security Officer

Koa is a German Shepherd Schutzhund in training. He loves to chase chickens and to annoy his Vizsla housemate.

Jennifer Luck, Director of Programs and Community Impact

Committed to driving lasting community impact, Jennifer brings more than 17 years of experience in program management, multi-stakeholder negotiations, fundraising and land management to Common Ground.  She sits on the boards of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Namahana Charter School and Kipuka Kuleana and is currently pursuing a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.

Amy Meharg, CFO

Amy has over 30 years of experience in accounting and business management including financial systems creation, new business setup, audits, financial reporting, nonprofit management, and staff training and oversight.

Constanze Niedermaier, Board Member

Constanze is currently building the Common Ground eCommerce-platform and oversees the company’s marketing and brand building. She is a long-term senior marketing executive with extensive eCommerce and media experience in Europe and the United States. Early in her career, she was instrumental in launching HSN's European online platform. She is also an award-winning author, start-up entrepreneur and mother of two daughters.

Oliver Niedermaier, Chairman

For more than 20 years, Oliver has worked to accelerate solutions to broken systems that hinder humanity’s potential for achieving a sustainable world. He strongly believes in Hawaii’s potential to re-invent its economy and become an epi-center for food systems innovation, with Common Ground as a petri-dish and leader for this movement.

As investor and entrepreneur, Oliver has led and co-lead more than 50 investments and acquisitions from early stage to billion dollar buyouts.  Oliver currently is the Chairman and CEO of TAU, a New York and Hong Kong-based investment firm focused exclusively on the transformation of global supply chains. He holds a Ph.D. in Strategic Management, is a World Economic Forum/Young Global Leader 2010 and has served on numerous public, private and non-profit boards such as the World Policy Institute, and the National Museum of the American Indian.

John Parziale, Farm Manager

John has practiced organic, ecological agriculture on Kauai for 23 years. He founded Kauai Authentic Farms in 2001, home to the Center for Regenerative Agriculture. He has taught permaculture and sustainable agriculture in Hawaii, the US mainland and in Europe. 

Eliseo Varela, Facilities Manager

Eliseo has managed Common Ground for over a decade while it was still under previous ownership, expertly maintaining and stewarding the property and accompanying infrastructure. 

Adam Watten, CG Ventures Culinary Manager

Committed to building robust local food systems, Adam is an expert in vertical supply chain integration and product procurement.  As an entrepreneur and Executive Chef he brings decades of experience in the food industry to the Common Ground team. His expertise in vertical supply chain integration is evidenced in his founding of Hanai Market, a local food retail outlet that exclusively sold Kauai-grown and Kauai-made products to the local market.

Sarah Wright, Director of Special Projects

Sarah brings expertise in administrative management, program development and in-depth knowledge of the surrounding landscape and natural resources.  She    previously ran operations for Wai Koa Plantation and is a member Halau Hula o Ke'alalaua'eomakana and the Leadership Kaua`i class of 2020.

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