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Research and Development Management

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Director: Diane L. Ley

Director Diane L. LeyDiane L. Ley is the Director of the Department of Research and Development for the County of Hawaiʻi where she oversees the delivery of programs and services that enhance the quality of life and sustainability of Hawaiʻi Island communities through leadership in the areas of energy, agriculture, tourism, economic and community development, film and immigration.

Diane previously served as the State Executive Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Basin, the Deputy Director of the County of Hawaiʻi’s Department of Research and Development and as the Deputy to the Chairperson of the Hawaiʻi Board of Agriculture. She operated a vegetable farm in Volcano and has served roles with the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau Federation and the Hilo Main Street Program.


Deputy Director: Riley Saito

RileyRiley Saito serves as the Deputy Director of the Department of Research and Development.

Riley previously served as Corporate Controller, Vice President at Mauna lani Resort Operations, Inc., Senior Manager of Hawaiʻi Projects for SunPower Corporation, and Manager/Member of Succeed Hawaiʻi, LLC.

Riley graduated from University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa with a Bachelor of Business Administration - BBA, Business Administration and Management, General-Travel Industry Management.


Private Secretary: Nicole Charon

Private Secretary Nicole CharonNicole Charon serves as the Private Secretary to the Director of the Department of Research and Development. She organizes and coordinates administrative matters and performs various duties for the department.

Nicole was born and raised on Hawaiʻi Island. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Before joining the County, Nicole worked at Floral Resources Hawaiʻi, where she gained over 10 years of administrative and accounting experience. Prior to being appointed as Private Secretary, Nicole was the Administrative Assistant for the department.