Photo: Claire Kuʻuleilani Hughes
Aloha to our readers! After twenty-plus years of writing this monthly Ka Wai Ola column on health, nutrition and traditions, I am retiring. This is my final column. However, because it is important to continue providing messages to you on health, healing and traditions, I asked Dr. Jodi Leslie Matsuo for her kōkua to continue this column. Please allow me to introduce Jodi to you.

Jodi Haunani Leslie Matsuo, Dr.PH., was born and raised in South Kona and graduated from Konawaena High School. Jodi attended the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where she completed both Master and Doctorate degrees in Public Health. She also earned additional certification as a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is on staff at the Kukui Lifestyle Medicine Clinic in Kailua-Kona. Jodi and her husband, Dr. Leon Matsuo, an internist and pediatrician, live in Captain Cook with their two daughters.

Photo: Jodi Matsuo
Jodi Haunani Leslie Matsuo – Photo: Courtesy

Jodi’s experience has come from her work as a Public Health Nutritionist at the State Department of Health in Honolulu, and as an instructor at The University of Hawaiʻi’s Mānoa, Hilo and West Hawaiʻi campuses. Jodi has taught UH courses in basic human nutrition, kinesiology and exercise science, child nutrition, as well as data and statistics in kinesiology, weight control and sports Nutrition. During her collegiate years Jodi received many academic and community honors, awards and scholarships.

Jodi interned as a Clinical Dietitian in Food Services Management at Tripler Hospital and at the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu while completing her studies for a Public Health Master’s degree. Jodi subsequently worked as a Nutrition Consultant and Public Health Nutritionist for a number of rural health care centers and community health agencies in Hāna, West Hawaiʻi, Kohala and Kona. She later earned her Doctorate in Public Health to expand her expertise and skills to better work with and help Native Hawaiians.

True to her Hawaiian roots, Jodi is observant, perceptive and analytical with a heart for service and a passion to maintain and improve the health of our lāhui. Jodi has experience working with the entire spectrum of ages, from infants to kūpuna, as well as patients in long-term care programs. Jodi also garnered experience studying, researching and publishing about traditional hawaiian diet and nutrition programs, such as the ʻAi Pono Program, Uliʻeo Koa and weight loss programs for keiki.

In March I reached out to Jodi, whose career I have watched with great pride. To my surprise and delight, Jodi agreed to take over the longstanding Mālama I Kou Kino column. Before I began writing this column, it was originally authored by our beloved kupuna, Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell. Thus, it is with confidence and great aloha that the torch is now passed to Jodi. To my readers and friends, I bid a fond aloha. E mālama pono, a e mālama i ko mau kino.


Dr. Claire Kuʻuleinani Hughes has written over 200 articles on health from a Hawaiian cultural perspective for Ka Wai Ola. Find them at kawaiola.news. Mahalo nui me ke aloha pumehana e Aunty Claire, for sharing your aloha and ʻike. E mālama pono a Ke Akua pū.