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John De Fries

John De Fries

President and Principal Advisor, Native Sun Business Group, Inc.


  • President and Principal Advisor, Native Sun Business Group, Inc.
  • Member, Board of Directors of the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation at ASU


Born and raised in a Waikiki Beach neighborhood on the island of Oahu, John De Fries grew up surrounded by family elders who were steeped in the traditions of the Hawaiian culture. At the same time, Waikiki Beach was well on its way to becoming a global tourist destination. While the beach offered recreational venues to visitors and local residents alike, De Fries also recalls the ocean as a valued source of food and medicine for his family and neighbors. This childhood setting embedded in him a life-long awareness of, and respect for, the symbiotic relationships that exist between community and culture, nature, and commerce.

Utilizing 20 years of experience, De Fries established Native Sun Business Group, Inc. in 1993. The business consulting and project management firm focused primarily on client engagements within Hawaii's hospitality and real estate development industries. Now positioned as an advisor to the County of Hawaii, De Fries has been tasked with facilitating the County's efforts in the Hawaii Green Growth Initiative — a statewide effort to bring together leaders from the energy, food, and environmental sectors to measure the collective progress being made toward specific sustainability goals. In this capacity, De Fries will also guide the County in preparing for the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which will convene in Honolulu in 2016.

In recent years, De Fries has been invited to rare learning opportunities in Hawaii. He has engaged with His Holiness, The Dali Lama; members of the Rapid Evaluation Team from Google X; Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first female prime minister of Norway; Hina Jilani, a renowned lawyer, pro-democracy campaigner, and leading activist in Pakistan's women's movement; Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of Cape Town, South Africa; and Sir Sidney Moko Mead, PhD, who created his country's first department of Māori Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The range of topics within these respective discussions include: sustainable development as a human right, the importance of indigenous knowledge and native intelligence, the potential for Hawaii Island to become a world model for sustainable living, and humanity's universal responsibility to care for our planet and one another.

De Fries and his wife Ginny have lived in Kona, Hawaii, since 1991.


  • University of Hawaii-Manoa
  • Punahou School, Honolulu