2nd Acts

8.4 million Americans have have launched "encore careers," including these six Islanders.


(page 3 of 3)


Was: a spa owner


Having spent 27 years in the spa industry, Dawn Marie was a pioneer in the field long before spas became prevalent and treatments became accessible to more than just the traveling elite. She studied both in the U.S. and Europe to earn credentials as an esthetician, a massage therapist, an aromatherapist and something called a Manual Lymph Drainage therapist.

Along the way, she opened the first day spa in Honolulu in 1990. It wasn’t simply her technique that gained attention; it was also her business savvy and professional integrity. “It’s all about trust,” says Dawn, “trusting that I want the same thing for my clients that they want for themselves.” She opened a spa consulting company soon after selling her day spa, and added Molokai Ranch to her client list.

You’d think that success in the spa industry would keep her there, but one of Dawn’s spa clients turned out to be a realtor who started clamoring for her help in marketing his own business. That she was effective in transferring her skills to the real estate industry was her first surprise; that she actually enjoyed it was her second. The transition from managing spas to selling homes came about suddenly, when the realtor who hired Dawn was killed in a car accident, and she made the decision to get herself licensed and handle some of his transactions. “It was a leap of faith to be sure,” says Dawn, “but there seemed to be an alignment of opportunity and energy that felt right.”

Eight years later, as a successful broker with Kahala Associates, the instinct has proven correct. Though she no longer provides facials or massages, Dawn thinks of her role as nurturing buyers and sellers through the real estate process, and takes a similarly holistic approach to her work. “This is about so much more than peoples’ properties; it’s about their lifestyles and dreams.” Where once she literally held clients in her hands, she’s now metaphorically holding their lives in her hands—and still hoping to enhance their well-being.



Was: a pastor


When he graduated from yale Divinity School in 1987, David Turner had his sights set on becoming a pastor, which he did, for five rewarding years at the Kapaa United Church of Christ on Kauai. Eventually, he found a different way to minister, serving as chaplain at Punahou School for 11 years. It was during a 2001 sabbatical in New Mexico that he began to think about linking his spiritual work with his long-term commitment to the environment. Viewing the two as “caring for God’s creation,” the pieces began to coalesce.

Much as he valued his work as a religious leader and was deeply valued for it, David didn’t want to pick one passion over another. Besides, he strongly believed in the interconnectedness of humans and the environment, of social justice and sustainability. David left Punahou without another job, describing his leap with a parable he told students at Chapel:

          It’s getting dark as a rock climber reaches the summit of a mountain he has climbed, when his hand slips and he falls the full length of the rope he is now dangling from. “Help me figure out what to do,” he pleads with God, who responds by saying, “Cut the rope.” “Are you nuts?” thinks the climber in the pitch-black night. The next day, the climber is found dead, dangling only 10 feet from the ground, where he would have fallen to safety.

David took the leap in 2005, with the full support of his wife, Kirsten, who he calls “the real hero of this story.”  The pastor turned preservationist struggled for several years with part-time consulting gigs, and ultimately landed a full-time position with Wind Energy Corp., a startup that is installing vertical-access wind turbines—including one at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens on Kauai.

Returning to the island where he served as an enthusiastic young pastor, 51-year-old David Turner sees his step away from the church as helping him to find a mission that will benefit not just one congregation or population of students, but “the entire world, with a renewable energy solution we desperately need.” Spoken like a man of faith.


Jana Wolff is a well-known writer and an unknown ghostwriter, based in Honolulu.

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Honolulu Magazine June 2018
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