Founder & Executive Director
Helena Lundblad, originally from Sweden, has always gravitated towards animals of all kinds. She spent much of her childhood around horses, and always had several companion animals in her home. Raised in a small town in the northern part of Sweden, vegetarianism or veganism was never something she was exposed to. It wasn’t until she was studying Public Health Science at the university that she started eliminating meat from her diet. At first it was mainly for health,and environmental reasons, but later on, when learning more about standard practices in animal agriculture, both Helena and her husband, Mathias went fully vegan in 2017 and started advocating for animal rights.
Helena moved from Sweden to San Diego 2012, and a few years after that she and Mathias relocated to Hawaii’s Big Island for his work. When searching for the property that would become their home, Helena knew she wanted the space to be able to have animals around her, but starting a sanctuary was never in the plans.
It was when an orphaned, four pound, wild goat named Janice came into their lives in 2016 that everything changed. Janice arrived with severe injuries to all of her hooves. It’s unclear exactly what had happened to her, but it appeared she had burnt all her legs. Her injuries caused two of her hooves to fall off, and the remaining two became badly deformed. Janice lived in the house for the first six months of her life while healing from her injuries and learning to walk in prosthetic legs. The bond between Helena and Janice grew very strong during that time – and with that bond also came the realization that, in all the ways that matter, there’s no difference between the species we call pets and the ones we call farm animals. Janice will always hold a very special place in Helena’s heart and is the reason Magical Creatures came to be.
Since founding Magical Creatures Sanctuary in January 2018, Helena has worked tirelessly to provide sanctuary to the many farmed animals on the Big Island who need rescue — whether from slaughter or neglect, wildlings who have been orphaned due to hunting or car accidents, or animals with special needs — and continue outreach and education efforts in the community.
Director of Sanctuary Operations
Lydia relocated to the Big Island from Minneapolis, MN in September 2023. She is a dedicated individual whose journey towards a fulfilling career at Magical Creatures Sanctuary has been shaped by diverse experiences. Her professional life began in the government sector, where she gained valuable insights on policy and regulation. This experience influenced her decision to pursue a Master in Public Administration in 2016. She also has experience in the nonprofit and corporate sector and worked for a primarily plant-based food production company prior to her arrival in Hawai'i. During this time, she regularly volunteered at a farm sanctuary on the weekends, forging a profound connection with the rescued animals and the sanctuary's mission. This deep-seated passion eventually led her to make a life-changing decision – leaving the corporate world behind and dedicating herself full-time to Magical Creatures, where she works to provide love and care for animals while advocating for their rights. With a unique blend of professional experience and unwavering compassion, Lydia is an advocate for animal rights and a vital asset to the sanctuary's mission.
Barbra J Portzline, PhD
Director of Advancement
Barbra went on a private tour and fell in love with Magical Creatures Sanctuary at first sight. She and her husband signed up to sponsor Apache, and then her company decided to donate a portion of their Hawai’i retreat proceeds through Patreon as a way to give back to the island and sanctuary. However, she knew that wasn’t enough. Recently, she accepted the position of Director of Advancement to help ensure the sustainability of our sanctuary. With over 25 years of experience, Barbra is an established leader in program and process evaluation and organizational development. Her clientele is diverse, ranging from government, nonprofit, education, healthcare, and community organizations, to the corporate sector. Barbra is the past president of the New Mexico Evaluators and the New Mexico Association for Talent Development, a current mentor for the Stanford University Latino Entrepreneur Scaling Program, a 2022 Diverse Business Leader Honoree, and one of a handful of Certified Return on Investment (ROI) Professionals®. She has also sat on the Board of several non-profits and a local Chamber of Commerce, and has given countless hours to mentoring and supporting small business owners across the nation.
Photo and Bio Coming Soon!
Animal Health Manager
Reana’s passion for animals began at a young age, and she always dreamed about working with them in some capacity. She studied marine biology and environmental ethics at Texas A&M University then worked for a nonprofit animal shelter for 3 years. Shelter medicine is what fueled her love for the veterinary profession and animal welfare. She is excited to expand her knowledge as our new animal health manager. When she is not working, she spends her time hiking, swimming, creating art, and reading.