Interior Applauds Launch of Island Leaders Speaker Series

Executive Leadership Development Participants Engage on
Important Leadership Principles and Experiences

Last edited 10/01/2021
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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) applauds the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) for successfully launching its “Leadership in Action” Speaker Series.

“The leaders in this inaugural series have important leadership skills and experience not only in the islands but internationally. The Speaker Series provides a unique and important opportunity for ELDP participants to engage and hear from leaders who already have extensive leadership experience and knowledge,” said OIA Director and Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Nik Pula. “We also note that the first Speaker of the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Bethwel Henry has passed away since participating in this program and we honor his memory.”

The ELDP Leadership in Action Speaker Series provides a unique opportunity for over 150 current ELDP participants and program alumni to engage in the application of island leadership principles as they relate to political, cultural, historical, and economic issues, as well as emerging trends and topics that shape and affect island communities. As part of the inaugural series, five island leaders were invited to address current ELDP participants and alumni: Thomas Remengesau, Jr., the now former President of Palau; Bethwel Henry, the first Speaker of the FSM Congress; Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Governor of Guam; Ramona Manglona, Chief Judge of the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands; Gerald Zackios, Ambassador of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United States of America.

  • President Thomas Remengesau, Jr., served as the inaugural speaker. His opening remarks discussed tenets of leadership that have shaped his public service career, Palau’s role as a leading global voice in a strong commitment to conservation, and an unwavering commitment to core values in Palau’s long-term diplomatic approach. President Remengesau remarked that leadership begins and ends with values that will serve as a foundation and influence every single decision a leader must make.
  • Speaker Bethwel Henry delivered remarks highlighting the era when island leaders in the Congress of Micronesia were discussing and exploring options for local self-governance during the during the late 1960’s and 1970’s in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Speaker Henry suggested that no man is an island and recommended getting to know others, encouraging teamwork, unity, and working together to solve problems.
  • Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero shared her personal and professional journey both from the private and public sector perspective. Her experience as a nurse and the Chief Executive Officer and President of the Bank of Guam helped form her unwavering commitment to address controversial social issues and to ensure equity for all. She suggested that progress, advances, development, growth, and change for the better cannot happen without challenging the norm, taking a risk, engaging in productive debate, or mustering the courage to speak out.
  • Chief Judge Ramona Manglona, the first woman Federal District Court Judge for the Northern Mariana Islands highlighted the importance of personal values and shared life lessons learned over the course of her career as the CNMI Attorney General and as a federal judge. She suggested that hard work and values, hand in hand with faith and family, are critical to success.
  • Ambassador Gerald Zackios, speaking immediately after the Pacific Island Forum’s leadership selection meeting, wherein he missed, by one vote, the opportunity to be the next Secretary-General, spoke on the importance of courage and resilience. Ambassador Zackios conveyed a message on the importance of not allowing disappointment to prevent you from bypassing opportunities.

Reverend Francis X. Hezel, SJ., a leading expert in Micronesia and former Director of the Micronesian Seminar, served as a moderator for the ELDP Leadership in Action Speaker Series and facilitated engaging and productive discussions. It is expected that the Speaker series will continue through 2021 with the hosting of additional prominent leaders.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs provides funding support for the ELDP, which is administered by the Graduate School USA’s Pacific & Virgin Islands Training Initiatives (PITI-VITI). First implemented in 2008, the ELDP serves as the premier leadership development program for government employees throughout the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additional information about the ELDP is available online at

More information about the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs can be found at

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, @InsularAffairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Follow and “like” OIA on Facebook and subscribe to the OIA YouTube Channel.




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