About the people

Jessica Palomino

Co-Founder & Executive Director 

Jessica has always had a passion for working to improve the lives of the underserved, both human and non-human. By trade she is a pediatric nurse, and spent the last 6 years working in the pediatric ICU at Kapiolani Medical Center. She recently accepted a new nursing position with the non-profit Ho' Ola Na Pua (an organization that is working to bring awareness to the sex trafficking industry in Hawai'i) at their new facility, Pearl Haven.

 

Jessica has also volunteered as a post-anesthesia care nurse with the non-profit Operation Smile, on multiple international surgical missions. Prior to the sanctuary, she was volunteering at the Sumner Health Clinic for people suffering from houseless-ness in Honolulu, HI. Her clinical capstone during nursing school was at a non-profit health clinic (Hope Clinic) in the state of Utah, a clinic that operated entirely through volunteer physicians, nurses, and other healthcare personnel, to provide free healthcare. Volunteer work has always brought her life meaning and purpose and she has had the privilege to work alongside some very innovative non-profit founders and volunteers.

Then the (possibly) obvious-- Jessica has always loved animals, from a very young age. She started her animal rescue work through kitten and bird fostering... before it escalated into pigs and goats! Her favorite part of being a director is being able to spend time with the animals at the sanctuary.

Anchi Howitz

Co-Founder & Director of Operations 

Anchi graduated from Cornell University, is a Licensed Massage Therapist, and has a background in managing luxury spa operations. 

Anchi has always considered herself to be an avid animal advocate. She has led multiple animal advocacy groups here on O'ahu, and volunteered at the Humane Society in Oregon before moving to the islands.

Prior to 2020, Anchi was balancing being a director at the sanctuary while working as a massage therapist at a resort on O'ahu. During the Covid-19 pandemic, two big life changes happened for Anchi: the resort closed, and Anchi became a new mother to her now nearly 1-year-old baby, Thorin (one of the youngest volunteers at the sanctuary now!).

 

Anchi's resilience and business background led her to open her own small business at the sanctuary, where visitors can receive massages, and 15% of the proceeds come back to the sanctuary. This endeavor financially benefits the sanctuary, and also allows Anchi to continue to volunteer in a leadership role with the sanctuary while managing her other responsibilities. 

Outside of the sanctuary, Anchi's other interested include dancing, traveling (specifically across Europe), and intersectionalism with other social justice movements.

Hannah Mizuno

Co-Founder & Director of Development

Hannah was born and raised on the island of O’ahu. She always had a deep love for animals, and envisioned creating a sanctuary before she even knew about the concept of a farmed animal sanctuary. The idea of a place where animals could  spend their days in refuge, free from violence and exploitation, had always been her dream.

 

After visiting a sanctuary in her teen years, her vision of starting a farmed animal sanctuary was solidified. At just 20 years old, when the opportunity arose to join the team of co-founders at Aloha Animal Sanctuary, she was ecstatic. Hannah is now a co-founder, Director of Development, and overnight caretaker at Aloha Animal Sanctuary, caring for the animals every day and night. This is her life’s work, and she is grateful for the opportunity to create a safe place for animals and people.

 

She is grateful to use the Sanctuary as an educational platform to raise awareness about animal and environmental issues. Hannah has planned multiple fundraising events for the sanctuary that were entirely zero-waste and emphasized sustainable habits. Her interests and experience in off-grid living have also benefited the sanctuary in the creation of the overnight caretaker office on-site.

Hannah is currently a full-time college student and hopes to find a career that allows her to continue volunteering with Aloha Animal Sanctuary for years to come.

The three directors of the sanctuary met through their shared interest in animal rights activism on O'ahu. They have always been passionate about creating tangible change, to improve the welfare of farmed animals. The idea of a farmed animal sanctuary came about through a casual Facebook discussion between Anchi and Jessica. They got to work and started preparing the non-profit paperwork, and searching for land. Immediately when Hannah learned about the idea, she offered to organize a large fundraising event for the sanctuary's opening. The fundraiser was a great success, and Hannah, Anchi, and Jessica have been working together to lead the sanctuary ever since.  Together, they are in charge of the sanctuary's overall development and succession planning.

Meet the Directors

Robert Barsocchini

 Robert has an MA in American Studies and is currently teaching and working on his dissertation as a doctoral student in American Studies at UH Manoa. His research interests include intersections between discrimination, and violence against human and non-human animals. Before returning to academia Robert spent years working in the film industry, which helped to spark his professional interest in the study of American culture, history, and society. 

In addition to participating in social initiatives such as the Standing Rock water-protection action, he has been raising and caring for animals for years, including pigs, cows, goats, chickens, and others.

 

Robert has been actively involved in the creation of the sanctuary since Day 1. His role at the sanctuary has always been dynamic and adapted to the needs of the sanctuary, sometimes operating as a foster parent for the sanctuary animals (he has personally fostered Charlotte, Eve, Francis, and Fern all at his home while they were babies). Most recently, Robert led the installation of all of the pasture fencing and is currently working on the construction of the new bird aviaries. 

 

Korie Mijo

Korie is currently managing our sponsorship program. She is in charge of sending handwritten love notes to all of the animals' sponsors, as well as crafting up keepsake items, like hoofprint artwork! Korie is always willing to volunteer an extra hand at our sanctuary events. She has so many talents, including baking and sewing, both of which she is constantly spoiling all of the other volunteers with! She is also a foster momma to Charlie the rooster and has helped with other animal rescues, including Sophie and Oliver, the piglets.

 

"Hiyah all, I’m Korie! Aloha Animal Sanctuary is truly my happy place. I feel so lucky to be a part of this place and be around some amazing beings. I work at Kapi’olani on the pediatric unit, and am currently a nursing student. I plan on working as a peds oncology nurse when I graduate. When I’m not hanging out with all the animal residents or studying, I love to cook vegan food, sew, and do anything crafty. There also isn’t a hobby I don’t do or won’t try!"

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Juliana Benson

Juliana has a background in partnering with a variety of nonprofits including working with the Hawaiian Humane Society as the Manager of Volunteer Services. She is now taking on a similar volunteer management role at the sanctuary.

 

Her undergraduate degree is in Psychology, and she is currently studying to receive her master's degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 

 

Juliana has a multitude of talents: she is also a certified yoga instructor and has led multiple fundraising yoga classes at the sanctuary. Additionally, she is a talented photographer who has donated hours of her time to photographing the animals, as well as event planning, crafting, etc. 

 

The list of Juliana's talents is extensive and her excellent communication skills, positive attitude, and attention to detail make her an asset to the team we are incredibly grateful for.

The team leaders work directly with the directors to manage important aspects of the sanctuary, including veterinarian care, donor sponsorships, accounting, the volunteer team, and animal enrichment.

Meet the Team Leaders
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Lolita Perez

Lolita, her husband, and her two sons have volunteered with the sanctuary since the first few months we opened! They come every single week and are always willing to put in extra time during events, leading tours, working on special projects, and helping with our special needs residents.

Lolita also volunteers with the Malama Na Honu organization for sea turtle monitoring and protection on the north shore. 

Her background of 16+ years in banking in has led her to her new role with the sanctuary, in assisting with accounting and bookkeeping.

Savanna Sahara

Savanna is our lead animal healthcare volunteer. She recently graduated with her BS in Biology and is an aspiring veterinarian. She assists the sanctuary with veterinarian care, doing tasks like goat stool sample collection, assessment, and deworming, along with other tasks like medication administration, talon trimming, etc.

 

"Aloha! My name is Savanna and I was born and raised in Alaska but moved to Oahu to study at the University of Hawai’i (and get away from all the snow). I graduated class of 2020 with a BS in Biology and BA in German, hoping to become a Animal Rescue Veterinarian. I love going to the beach with my two dogs and coming to the sanctuary to care for all of my amazing animal friends! I believe ALL animals deserve to have a safe and loving home away from harm and suffering, and Aloha Animal Sanctuary is just that place! Being a caretaker for AAS is such an enriching and unforgettable experience, I love my AAS family!"

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Kylee Coiner

Kylee has been with sanctuary since the beginning. She is involved in tours and was one of our hired staff when we received the Kupu Aloha grant. She built the sanctuary compost, and helped clear the lower area of the sanctuary of invasive grasses. She has also assisted with fostering multiple animals, including Sophie and Oliver, and Charlie the rooster.

 

"I'm Kylee, a thrift shopper, aspiring minimalist and introvert. My passions include taking care of the residents at the sanctuary, cooking vegan food and exploring more ways to live a sustainable life. Most days you’ll find me hanging with my chihuahua, Boss, who loves long walks on the beach. Volunteering at the sanctuary with farm animals has allowed me to personally connect with each of the residents. They are all highly emotional, intelligent creatures with vibrant personalities. I've been a weekly caretaker at the sanctuary since March 2019 and recently began giving tours! I'm so grateful for Aloha Animal Sanctuary, for what they do for the animals, but also for bringing so much happiness and purpose to my life!"

Sara Saffery

Creative Leader

Sara is in charge of the art and design projects occurring at the sanctuary. She is the mastermind behind the sanctuary's logo and

web design.

 

A Hawai'i native, Sara recently returned to the islands after living on the mainland for 17 years. An avid traveller, she devoted 6 months in 2018 volunteering with various environmental and animal conservation organizations in Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. 

 

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Brian Heithaus

Garden Leader

Brian is a passionate advocate for sustainable living. He has had the good fortune to work alongside and learn from many expert practitioners of 'Permaculture', organic farming, and sustainable living. He is excited to coordinate the gardening, sustainability and food production program at Aloha Animal Sanctuary, to feed the animals and volunteers, and bring together our community to learn together about growing food and Mālama ‘Āina.

 

After moving to Hawai'i five years ago to work in technology and pursue sustainable living he has found the most fulfillment contributing to and promoting with projects Yogarden, Umeke Market, Aloha Animal Sanctuary, and What it Dough, all working to promote sustainable living and/or vegan plant-based lifestyles.

The People

Alisa May

Architect and Site Planner

Alisa designed Haku's Home and went above and beyond the duties of an architect by building it herself (with the help of volunteers).

 

She earned a degree in architecture and a graduate degree in environmental studies, and is also an incredibly talented artist. 

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Nick Pecoraro

Co-Founder

Nick Pecoraro is one of the original four co-founders of the sanctuary. His organization of animal rights movements in Hawai'i led to the four co-founders meeting each other!

We Kindly Ask For Your Support Today!