John Leong is the President and CEO of Pono Pacific Land Management, LLC and the Executive Director of Kupu. He was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and graduated from Punahou School. He went on to the University of Pennsylvania where he studied business at the Wharton School, focusing on Environmental Policy and Management and Entrepreneurial Management. John continued his extracurricular pursuits as a NCAA Division I athlete and leader with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Upon graduating from Wharton, John returned to Hawaii. In the fall of 2000, he established Pono Pacific Land Management, LLC to serve conservation agencies and protect Hawaii’s natural resources.
John has a strong commitment to Hawaii’s youth and the betterment of local communities. One of the first projects contracted to the company was the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps under the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The program grew from sixteen youth spending a summer program on Kauai to currently serving over 200 youth statewide in just six years. In 2007, John, his wife Julianna Rapu Leong, and long-time friend and colleague Matthew Bauer founded a separate 501c3 non-profit, Kupu, to house the HYCC program, and also to grow other youth training programs. Today, Kupu provides hands-on, service based job training programs to Hawaii’s youth across the state.
John has been recognized with U.S. Presidential Award for Small Business, Board of Directors, The Corps Network (since 2009), Management of 2 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects 2009-2010, 2010 Pacific Business News Forty Under 40, 2010 Best In Business I Finalist, 2010 Bank of Hawaii Community Leader of the Year and 2011 Legislative and Gubernatorial Proclamation of “Pono Pacific Day”.