3 added to Planning Department staff

After a lengthy search, the county Planning Department recently hired three planners, bringing the total number of county planners to eight.

Lisa Ellen Smith was hired as the Coastal Zone Management planner and Leanora Kaiaokamalie and Marie Williams were brought on board as long-range planners.

“We’re pleased to have three new planners who are well-educated and come with high recommendations,” Planning Director Ian Costa said in a news release. “I am optimistic that they will play major roles in moving a number of our projects forward.”

Smith is responsible for reviewing and analyzing Special Management Area (coastal and estuary areas) permit requests and preparing reports for the Planning Commission. In addition, she assists with making shoreline setback determinations.

As a long-range planner, Kaiaokamalie is tasked with managing community development plans and other regional projects, research and data gathering, as well as mapping analysis.

Similarly, Williams is responsible for preparing development plans for the various districts on Kaua‘i and also assists with implementing the General Plan.

“I feel very fortunate to be on this magnificent island and working in the field that I love alongside dedicated professionals,” Smith said. “When I came for a visit about three years ago, I checked out the Kekaha Landfill and recycling centers and other places that only planners would be interested in. It didn’t take me long to make the decision to move here with hopes of working for the Planning Department.”

Smith’s first job on Kaua‘i was with the YWCA. Then she moved to Kukui Grove Center where she was employed as the operations manager for two years.

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Smith received a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and a masters’ degree in city and regional planning from Ohio State University.

Kaiaokamalie was born and raised on Kaua‘i. She is a Waimea High School graduate who went on to the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa, where she earned a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in urban and regional planning.

Her areas of concentration were ahupua‘a management, coastal zone management, community planning and geographic information systems.

Before joining the Planning Department, Kaiaokamalie worked as a GIS analyst with the county’s Information Technology Division. She was also employed as a planner for the state Office of Planning and Maui County Planning Department.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to help plan a sustainable future for my family, the community and our ‘aina,” Kaiaokamalie said.

Williams is an O‘ahu native who hails from the North Shore. She graduated from Kahuku High School and earned a bachelor’s of science degree in geography and bachelor’s of arts degree in communications at Brigham Young University in Utah.

She went on to get a master’s degree in urban and regional planning specializing in environmental planning from Georgia Tech.

“I am really excited about helping to make Kaua‘i a more sustainable place, a better place to live,” Williams said.

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