- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii Gov. David Ige has named a 28-year veteran of the Nature Conservancy to serve as chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Ige announced Tuesday that he chose Suzanne Case to fill the role.

The nomination came after Ige failed to convince senators to confirm his previous pick, Castle & Cooke land developer Carleton Ching. Environmentalists had decried Ige’s selection of Ching to lead the department which is charged with protecting the environment, and thousands of people signed petitions and submitted testimony against him.

The turn of events Tuesday was welcome news to those who had protested Ige’s previous nominee.

“He heard us. The governor heard the people,” said Marjorie Ziegler, the executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawaii. “I feel really encouraged that she has the skill set…Some of the best lands in the state are managed by the Nature Conservancy, and they’re very sensitive to the culture.”

Case has led the Nature Conservancy as its executive director since 2001. She oversaw operations at 16 preserves spanning a total of 53,000 acres. Her work included native forest, coastal and marine conservation on six Hawaiian islands. She attended Punahou School and was its first female student body president, according to a news release.

“She is a collaborative leader who shares many of the same values that I was looking for,” Ige said at a news conference. “She has created partnerships with business, private entities and communities to conserve and manage our natural resources. She shares my desire to restore trust in government and reshape the way that the state conducts its work.”

Case said she’s humbled by the opportunity, and hopes to win the confidence of the senators, which must approve the nomination.

“I share fully Gov. Ige’s vision for wise stewardship of Hawaii’s public and conservation lands and waters, and for excellence in government to make the most of our limited resources,” Case said.

In Ching’s case, the committee hearing to debate his qualifications stretched over two days, and Ching’s candidacy ended when it became clear the senate wasn’t going to approve him, so Ige withdrew his name.

Ige also nominated three new members of the Board of Education. They are Lance Mizumoto, president and chief banking officer of Central Pacific Bank; Hubert Minn, a former teacher and deputy director at the Honolulu’s department of enterprise services; and Maggie Cox, a retired teacher and principal.

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Follow Cathy Bussewitz on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cbussewitz

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