HCIA installs leadership team

LIHUE— The Hawaii Crop Improvement Association has stirred up its leadership, installing Kirby Kester, formerly the applied genetics manager of BASF on Kauai, as its new president.

Kester is currently Dow AgroSciences’ Hawaii Research and Development Leader – Seeds and Traits. With nearly 20 years of experience in the seed industry on Kauai, he resides on Molokai and serves as site leader for Dow AgroSciences’ research station, as well as provides oversight for Kauai’s Seeds and Traits research and development program.

“We know our industry is under siege,” Kester said in a statement. “We are already working hard to tell the story of Hawaii’s seed industry and we intend to do this even more over the coming months. We’re going to spend more time showing people why they have nothing to fear from modern agriculture and the tools created with biotechnology.”

Kester holds a Master of Science degree in agriculture from Iowa State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has been a member of HCIA since 1995, and will serve a two-year term as president.

Additionally, trade group, which represents the agricultural seed industry in Hawaii, introduced a new executive director, Bennette Misalucha, to members and community partners during its annual meeting June 5.

Misalucha has an extensive 17-year background in banking and finance and sits on a number of local nonprofit boards. 

She previously served as regional director for government and community affairs at Actus Lend Lease, and spent time as a local television news reporter and producer with KHON Channel 2 News.

“We’re thrilled to have found someone with Bennette’s vast experience to take over the executive director position at HCIA,” Kester said. “Bennette brings the type of business-savvy expertise we were looking for, as well as a history of success engaging and educating stakeholders on the issues. I look forward to working with her as HCIA moves forward.”

Misalucha received her Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and earned an advanced degree from the Bank Administration Institute at the University of Wisconsin.


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