A Heart for Healing

Christy Wong

Leadership Kaua‘i: Christy, as the founder and Executive Director of the Kaua‘i Animal Education Farm, a nonprofit with an extraordinary vision and mission, inquiring minds want to know the “why” behind it all. Why the KAE Farm?

Christy Wong: Years ago, our house was the gathering place of family and friends, and we had many animals there too. I saw how the animals positively affected those who played with and cared for them. Even in my own family, when we had problems with one another, the animals were calming and healing for us. There was power in connections. People began dropping off animals either found or injured and we eventually ended up with over 100 animals. We looked for a larger place to help these rescued animals and decided to build an educational curriculum based on caring for them. As project grew, we realized the benefits of working with the animals was an opportunity for emotional wellness and healing as well as and social-emotional learning. It is a win-win. The animals have a home and people have a foundation to create connections for healing, learning and growing.

LK: Where did your leadership journey begin?

This journey did not start with the intention of being a leader, but with wanting to learn skills that would help me work efficiently with others to solve the many diverse problems in our community.

LK: We would like to hear of any unexpected hiccups or positive nuggets that showed up on along the way.  

My biggest takeaway is my view on what I defined a leader to be. My perspective has drastically changed. I viewed leaders as someone that was placed on an unattainable pedestal, that yielded power and authority, usually in a negative manner. Through this process, my definition has changed, I see leadership as it should be. An effective leader can have a servant’s heart and not have to lead from the front, or by force or fear. An effective leader can be a person who is trustworthy and honest; is someone who sees criticism as a way to improve oneself; has good communication skills; and is eager to listen, not just to answer, but really listen and take cues from nonverbal communication to empower others to be their best.

LK: KAEF has had its ups and downs. What inspires you to go for it during challenging times?

Wong: A constant reminder that as hard as I have it, others have it even harder. That in my capacity, I am to do all that I can to help others.

LK: In moving forward, what is your hope for the future of our island and your organization?

Wong: My hope for my beloved mokupuni (island) is for Hawaiians to be able to afford to live on their ancestral land, that the ‘aina is cared for and seen as a family member once again. That the services KAEF offers won’t be needed; that animals won’t be shipped here, bred and sold for exploitation; and that providing mental health, physical health and the knowledge of growing our own food becomes second nature. My vision for the future is, our people will be healthy and thriving in mind, body, & spirit.

LK: Tell us your intention and personal values that you stand on.

Wong: Integrity, an honest and hard work ethic, respect, compassion and strong sense of responsibility to our community. These are the values that I have instilled in my house and overflows to KAEF.

LK: What is your leadership philosophy?

Wong: My philosophy is, every day is a day to learn and grow to become a better version of myself, ourselves.

If I’m going change the world, truly the only thing that I can change is myself and I so start within me. I have found that being open to lean on or call upon others when in need takes a “knowing and acceptance” of one’s limitations. It is necessary for leaders to know that they don’t know everything and to seek help to learn, understand and grow.

LK: What gets you up in the morning?

Wong: Besides getting ready for the daily lessons for my daughter as I homeschool her, make bottles for orphans that need bottle-feeding, and all the animals need to be fed, watered and cared for, I wake up to make a difference in someone’s life. You never know who you will have an impact on.

My favorite quote is, “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” ~ Andrzej Kolikowski

  • With a big heart and passion for inner growth, Christy Wong and her family are devoted and dedicated to the well-being of both animals and Kaua‘i’s families. To learn more about Kaua‘i Animal Education Farm and volunteer click on their webpage


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