About | Bio

A Message from Senator Russell Ruderman

As your Senator, I serve as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services, as well as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, and as a member of the Commerce/Consumer Protection & Health committee.

I am humbly honored to be able to serve you as Senator of the Puna and Ka’u Districts representing the people of Kea’au, Pahoa, Kalapana, Kapoho, Kurtistown, Mountain View, Glenwood, Volcano, and Pahala.

I remain steadfastly committed to open and inclusive representation. I also want to thank everyone of you for your efforts and encourage everyone in our communities to become more personally involved in the legislative process wherever and whenever possible.

As always, I remain open to your feedback on any way that I may address the issues that mean the most to you. I would also like to thank those of you who have taken your valuable personal time to express your views on various issues and/or have submitted testimony. You input and testimony matters! Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you may have.

Russell Ruderman


Created over 200 jobs in successful small business

2015 SBA State of Hawaii Businessperson of the Year

Founder & President, Island Naturals Markets

2014 Friends of the Library Legislator of the Year

Local business community leader and innovator

Proven record of thriving under difficult economic circumstances

Past member: County Solid Waste Advisory Committee; County Agriculture Committee, County Environmental Management Committee; UHH Performing Arts Center Advisory  Committee

30-year full-time district resident

Demonstrated political involvement in community

Promotion of local agriculture and value-added food production

Ability to work collaboratively with diverse people and build consensus

Strong leadership capabilities

B.S. Biology, Penn State University

Community leader in environmental issues

Intervenor, Public Utilities Commission first Integrated Resource Planning hearings, 1990

2007 Small Businessman of the Year, Hawaii County

Political Activity

Member, Democratic Party

Member, County Environmental Management Commission

Served on the Hawaii County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (2008-2010) and Agriculture Committee (2008), and on the UHH Performing Arts Center Advisory Committee.

In January 2011, Russell was the first choice of the Democratic Party for nomination to a State Senate District 2 vacancy.

Resident of Puna district for over 28 years. Homeowner and full-time resident of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Consistently involved in local politics, including environmental initiatives and in the alternative energy field.

Was instrumental in the passage of the Hawaii County’s Plastic Bag Reduction Bill, 2011.

President of Waawaa Community Association 3 years, and active in the former Puna Community Council. 1988-1992

Lead Spokesperson, Big Island Rainforest Action Group. This group organized the largest demonstration in Hawaii Island history, in Wao Kele O Puna rainforest. Gave keynote speech at rally to over 1,000 people. Led the official visit to Gov. Waihee’s office. 1987-1991

Intervenor, Public Utilities Commission, initial docket on Integrated Resource Planning, 1990. Promoted renewable energy policies through P.U.C.

Russell Ruderman was the first choice of the Democratic Party Caucus when an open seat occurred in Jan. 2011. He has run for Council twice in the past.

A 28 year resident of the district, Russell is founder and owner of Island Naturals Markets, which has created over 150 jobs on the Big Island. He has also served on the County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and currently serves on the County Commission for Environmental Management. Long time residents will remember Russell from his work with Big Island Rainforest Action Group and various environmental issues over the years. More recently Russell advocated for the Plastic Bag Reduction Bill, which became law.

Russell represents the Puna district in the state legislature with an emphasis on crucial issues such as education, transportation, renewable energy, and agriculture.


B.S. Biology, Pennsylvania State University, 1975, with honors.
Overbrook H.S. 1971 Philadelphia, PA
Independent study and numerous seminars including consensus-building, Robert’s rules, computer systems, management training, business skills, and conflict resolution.


Manager, Real Food Company, San Francisco, CA 1977-1985

Owner, Island Naturals statewide sales brokerage, Pahoa HI 1987-1998

Founder and President of Island Naturals Markets, a group of three grocery stores on the Big Island, founded in 1998.

Has created over 200 Big Island jobs, and employs a very diverse staff.

In 2007, named Small Businessperson of the Year for Hawaii County by Small Business Association.

In 2015, named Small Businessperson of the Year for State of Hawaii by Small Business Association. Criteria included growth in business, overcoming adversity, community involvement, job creation and others. Nominated by Bank of Hawaii.

Island Naturals:

Actively supports local farmers and manufacturers.

Supports through donations and activities various school programs and health initiatives.

Created over 200 jobs;, fastest-growing private sector company on Hawaii Island.

Voluntarily established $10/hour minimum wage for all employees.

Supports education with an innovative teacher discount, the only one known in the nation. First in state to use compostable disposable containers, offers highest known rebate to encourage reusable bags.

Island Naturals is the largest customer for many local farms and value-added food producers.Winner of the first Keeping it Green Hawaii award from Recycle Hawaii, awarded to three of our stores.The Island Naturals model of business is based on collaborative relationships among staff, suppliers, and customers. This company value has produced quality working relationships and sustained growth. Island Naturals, with Russell’s leadership, expanded and thrived during the recent recession.

Island Naturals Markets are Hawaii’s greenest markets. The company was the first in the state to implement several green initiatives. Island Naturals is Hawaii’s biggest seller of local organic produce statewide.


Avid nature photographer.

An active musician, Russell is a member of Latin dance band El Leo, the Jarican Express (a kachi-kachi band), and founding member of classic rock band Terrapin Station.

Sailed to Hawaii in 1985 on a small wooden sailboat from San Francisco. This boat had no motor and Russell used a sextant and celestial navigation to find the islands a 25 day adventure.

PADI certified scuba diver.

Married to Dina Mendoza Scott

Ruderman Ohana (Dina, Russell and Aviva!)

Russell, Dina and Aviva!

Russell with daughter Kate & granddaughter Claire

Three daughters in college, our newest family member, Aviva!

Daughter Kate:  Hilo High School Valedictorian Class of 2010; St. Thomas University student, two grandchildren.

Daughter Grace: Hilo High graduate, Humbolt State University graduate, Humboldt University Artist in Residence

Daughter Zoe: Hilo High graduate, Humboldt State University student