Whether you decide to visit for a week, a month, or a long-term stay as part of our Volunteer Program, you are supporting community development and resource sustainability on Hawaii Island. With 120-acres of lush jungle to explore, as many as 200 guests and staff on site, and up to 50 classes and workshops each week, it's easy to leave the stresses of everyday life behind.
Kalani is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization presenting nature, culture, and wellness within sustainable, educational programs that honor Hawaii's native and diverse heritage.
Kalani co-creates a dynamic environment where all can thrive. We aim to be a living model for a healthy and vibrant planet. We welcome all in the spirit of aloha, and are guided by the Hawaiian tradition of `ohana (extended family) - both respecting our diversity and sharing in our collective wisdom in unity.
Joël Tan has been serving as Kalani's Executive Director since April 2016. Joël comes to Kalani with more than 28 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, including serving as the Director of Community Engagement at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and co-founding the Los Angeles Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team Health Center. Joël is also an artist, writer, performer, and activist, which has earned him various awards and invitations to speak at events around the world.
His knowledge and enthusiasm in both the arts and public health will contribute to Kalani's mission of honoring Hawaiian culture in an environment where all can thrive.T T
Richard Koob moved to Hawaii in 1974, after an illustrious dance career and storied travel around the world, including Germany, New York, and France. Upon moving to Hawaii, Richard continued performing, reaching out to communities and schools, and instructing modern dance at the University of Hawaii.
The Kalani concept was founded by Richard - lovingly nicknamed Rich-heart - along with long-term companion and fellow dancer Earnest Morgan. Richard and Earnest's journey drew them to a spectacularly beautiful coastline on one of the world's most remote islands. Here, in Hawaii Island's Puna District, Richard found the ideal environment for his concept: a center that encouraged visitors to embrace the vitality of nature and dance with the elements - fire, air, water, and earth - while traversing one's unique healing path.
Born December 3, 1947 in Waipahu O‘ahu, Earnest was a dance prodigy who began ballet classes at three, was awarded a scholarship with the San Francisco ballet after high school, and began international touring after completing his B.A. at Northwestern University. After meeting Richard Koob in NYC's Sheridan Square and performing in Paris' Theatre du Silence, Earnest and Richard conceived the idea to found a retreat center in Hawai‘i. In 1975, the dance duo purchased the initial Kalani Honua 19 acres in partnership with Richard's parents and beloved friend Bill Biglow - who teamed together to machete through the thick jungle landscape and build some of Kalani's first structures.
"About the same time as the final flight of the ‘O‘o, on May 9, 1982, Earnest Morgan, my sweet man punahele, squeezed my hand in a farewell to be forever free. Kalani's cultural expression, its soul, is rooted in the dance, his dance," remembers Richard.