The People

Meet the Directors

The directors are in charge of the sanctuary's overall development and succession planning. We are extremely proud of the fact that all of our directors have been a part of the sanctuary since the very first day we opened, on January 1, 2019. 

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Lolita Perez

Executive Director

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.

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Jessica Palomino

Co-Founder &

Director of Public Relations 

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.

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Hannah Mizuno

Co-Founder & Director of Animal Care

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.

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Korie Mijo

Director of Development

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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Anchi Howitz

Co-Founder, Board of Directors

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 interests include dancing, traveling (specifically across Europe), and intersectionalism with other social justice movements.

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Amy Cady

Director of Facilities

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Juliana Benson

Board of Directors

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 incredible asset to the team.

Meet the Managers/Coordinators

Managers/Coordinators support the directors in their specific specialty. 

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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, 

web design, and merchandise.

 

A Hawai'i native, Sara recently returned to the islands after living on the US continent 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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Savanna Sahara

Animal Health Manager

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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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.

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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!

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