Board of Directors

Holeka Inaba – President
Holeka Inaba pictureDr. Holeka Goro Inaba was born and raised in Kona and currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for West Hawaiʻi Mediation Center. In this leadership role, Holeka provides a unique perspective that integrates a focus on the future that is based on his Hawaiian cultural upbringing. Holeka currently serves as the Hawaiʻi County Council Member for District 8 (North Kona).  During his years at Chapman University’s Advancement office, Holeka assisted in the coordination and execution of outreach events and programs. He is skilled in message / program development, evaluation and enhancement.  Holeka holds a B.A. in Educational and Communication Studies, a M.S. in Health and Strategic Communication, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. During his free time, Holeka enjoys volunteering with various community organizations.  In addition to his role with WHMC, he also serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for Uluhaʻo o Hualālai and as a volunteer with Laʻiʻōpua 2020.

Niel Thomas – Vice President
Niel retired to Waimea from Alaska in 2015 and was drawn to West Hawaii Mediation Center to offer his skill set as a labor arbitrator and later as a mediator and arbitrator of real estate disputes during his 35 years as a real estate licensee. He earlier served under Alaska’s Governor Jay Hammond as Executive Director of the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights. He was Executive Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, a newspaper reporter and drama critic with the Boston Globe and other media organizations, and has held a number of public information positions, including the War on Poverty Program in Boston and at Gettysburg College. Niel is a board member of the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra Society, and served a term on the Hawaii County Board of Appeals. He sings in several choral groups on-island, and is a Life Master of the American Contract Bridge League. He is a graduate of Cornell University and is married to Hermine Baker. Together they enjoy world travel, gardening, theatre arts, and cooking.

George Winchell – Treasurer
George Winchell pictureGeorge has a son living in Honolulu.  He has a second home in Michigan where he spends 3-4 months each year.  He recently re-retired (June 30, 2018).  He plans to spend his time enjoying Hawaiʻi, reading, learning to be an ukulele luthier, and visiting his son.



Sean Duim
Sean Duim has served on the Board of Directors for the West Hawaiʻi Mediation Center since 2020. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a B.S. in Business Administration Finance. During his time at UNC, he worked in the Office of Student Life, leading new student orientations and coordinating the biannual Student Involvement Fair. He was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, serving as the head of new member education. He also served as Scholarship Chair, overseeing member’s academics and finding scholarship opportunities. He recently moved back to his hometown of Kailua Kona with his fiancé and new baby daughter. Now being back home, he hopes to further give back to his community that has given him so much. He currently works for his family business as a Real Estate Appraiser. During his free time, he enjoys being in the ocean and spending quality time at the beach with his family.
Charles Greenfield

Nelson Hairston Jr.
nelson pictureNelson has lived in Waimea since 2019 when he and his wife moved here after he retired from his position as Professor of Environmental Science at Cornell University with an expertise in the ecology of lakes and streams. On Hawaii Island he is studying the ecology of endemic opaeula (shrimp) in anchialine pools along the Kona-Kohala coast and invasive crustaceans (copepods) in local farm ponds.  Nelson was introduced to the WHMC by his neighbor Neil Thomas and joined the Board of Directors in March 2022. He is currently a member of the Science Advisory Board of a freshwater research institute in Berlin, Germany, and in the past has served as Chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Senior Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell, as well as on the Cornell Board of Trustees and the Board of Trustees of the Museum of the Earth/Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca, New York. Nelson and he wife are grateful to live on the Big Island with its many wonderful people, and thankful for the water they receive from Kohala Mountain.

Charlene Nishida
charleneCharlene Nishida joined the WHMC Board in July 2022.  She brings 15 years of experience working at non-profits in San Francisco, the Big Island and Oahu including the San Francisco Bay Girl Scout Council, Hospice of Kona and the American Cancer Society.  She has also served as a board member on several Big Island non-profits. She is a small business owner and a Certified Real Estate Appraiser for the past 15 years.  The Nishida clan lives in Kamuela and include her husband, three children and numerous animals.  As a former recipient of services of the West Hawaii Mediation Center, she looks forward to expanding awareness of the benefits of mediation services to our West Hawaii community.  She can personally attest to the positive impacts that mediation services provide.