A Big Thank You Hug

International Program Director Kari Malen is saying goodbye to Health In Harmony after almost a decade! Kari's knowledge of, dedication to, and passion for our mission will be missed. Here, Kari shares a farewell message for Health In Harmony and its supporters: 

Nine years ago, I showed up on ASRI’s doorstep with a passion for reforestation and a desire to help make good happen in the world. Health In Harmony and ASRI family took me in like one of their own. I started as a volunteer helping to plan and oversee reforestation work with communities on the edge of Gunung Palung National Park; a dream come true, and, well, I just didn’t want to leave.

I fondly remember the day Kinari asked me if I’d be willing to help coordinate volunteers... for pay. I became a staff member and over the years my role evolved with the organization: I went from coordinating volunteers to organizing research projects to guiding visitor groups to helping set the stage for the next phase of program replication. (And so much more along the way ... as anyone who works in the world of small non-profits will understand.) The diverse job description, the important mission of HIH, and the passionate commitment of the team all kept me engaged for just shy of a decade. Wow - time does fly. The journey has been an amazing adventure and I’m very proud of all that has come of it.

Kari with ASRI Co-founder, Hotlin Ompusunggu, and Planetary Health Education Manager, Etty Rahmawati, at the ATBC (Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation) conference. Bali, 2010.

Today I send this fond message of reflection as I take a step outside the HIH staff circle and hand over the reins to the talented Ashley Emerson.  It is comforting to know things are in good hands as I prepare to enjoy little down-time to pursue my passions through other channels.

As I look back, what I really want to say is THANK YOU!  Thanks to all of you that have leaned in and become a part of the extended HIH family; whether you provided needed supplies, sage advice, crucial donations, invaluable volunteer hours or helped share our story. I applaud your generous and much needed support and hope each of you realize that indeed you are an important part of this team. We couldn’t do it without you.

Of course I’ll miss working daily with the amazing HIH and ASRI family – who are more friends than co-workers – as well as our strong and inspirational Board of Directors who always have our back. You all make up a stellar team of committed people, and I'm lucky to have had the chance to work with you.

While I am stepping out of my formal role, know that I will still be involved. I'll be watching the story unfold from outside the circle while looking for new ways to contribute to the cause … you know, it might be nice to go back and help plant a few more trees.

Winnie the Pooh said it best:

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Hugs to you,



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