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Department of Research and Development - Staff

DIRECTOR:  Diane L. Ley

DIANE L. LEY is the Director of the Department of Research and Development for the County of Hawai‘i where she oversees the delivery of programs and services that enhance the quality of life and sustainability of Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i and the Pacific Basin, the Deputy Director of the County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Research and Development and as the Deputy to the Chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. She operated a vegetable farm in Volcano and has served roles with the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation and the Hilo Main Street Program.


RON WHITMORE has been working in community and economic development for 25 years. He has been a Peace Corps volunteer, the executive director of a nonprofit community organization, and a small business owner. Ron came to R&D from the County Planning Department, where he’d served as a senior long range planner since 2007.

Ron graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College and has a PhD in Community Sustainability from Michigan State University. He has knowledge of and experience with agriculture, economic development, research, program development, and grant management.  Ron has served as President of the Halā‘i Kumiai and the Hilo Aquatic Club, and he enjoys swimming and playing soccer. 


CYNDY DYAL serves as the personal secretary to the Director of the Department of Research and Development. She organizes and coordinates administrative matters and performs various duties for the department.

Cyndy became a Hawai‘i Island resident in December of 1991 after a successful career with Pacific Bell in the San Francisco Bay Area. She actively participates in the Hawai‘i Island community in many roles volunteering for numerous non-profit organizations throughout the island. Cyndy helped introduce the cellphone inudstry to Hawai‘i Island as a business rep for US Cellular. She was active on the Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for 8 years, shortly after becoming the Executive Director. Cyndy entered the real estate field in 2006 and at the same time continued to pursue her interest in the alternative energy business having sold solar solutions off and on for over 22 years. Currently Cyndy is a member of Destination Kona Coast, the Kona Historical Society and the Hawai‘i Island Board of Realtors®. Cyndy was co-founder of the Kona Brewer’s Festival and The Friends of NELHA (FON), a 501 c3 non-profit organization, and currently serves on the FON Board of Directors. Cyndy is a graduate of “Ulumau”, the Hawai‘i Island Leadership Series and enjoys hiking, swimming and gardening.