Interior Congratulates 24 Graduates of the Pacific Executive Leadership Development Program

Last edited 11/30/2020
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Tanya Harris Joshua 202-208-6008


2019 Graduates of the Pacific ELDP, Honolulu, Hawaii, June 14, 2019. Courtesy photo.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Doug Domenech congratulated the twenty-four new graduates of the Pacific Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) by way of video, along with Pacific Island leaders, during the graduation ceremony of the Pacific ELDP 2019 cohort at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Friday, June 14, 2019.

“Congratulations graduates, we are proud of your hard work! You have invested in your professional future and we have invested in you,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech in the video. “We will look to you to help improve the lives of people in the islands,” Domenech added.

President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine presided at the graduation where she delivered keynote remarks to the graduates. “Having public servants with the right mix of leadership skills and qualities is essential,” President Heine shared. “You were all leaders when you joined this program, but there’s no doubt you’re better leaders today following your thoughtful and deliberate efforts during this program.”

Crystal Simanu of American Samoa, chosen by her peers to speak on behalf of her fellow graduates, had the following to say, “The ELDP has effectively equipped us to handle any and every situation that comes our way. We now head back to our respective home islands to make changes for the better.”

The graduation ceremony in Honolulu was preceded by a capstone week of training that featured the 2019 cohort giving final presentations of team projects to a panel of judges, which consisted of Office of Insular Affairs Director Nikolao Pula, former Director of the Micronesian Seminar Rev. Francis X. Hezel, and ELDP Instructor Dr. Patricia Keehley, Ed.D.

“I am impressed by the caliber of young leaders that are representing the U.S. territories and the freely associated states today,” said Director Pula. “I emphasized to the graduating class the importance of the leadership quality of integrity. As President Eisenhower once said ‘The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible…’”

Additional sessions included the finalization of personal growth plans and individual leadership profiles. They also held final training sessions and discussions on key topics, such as government ethics, performance measurement, and challenges future island leaders will confront.

Several keynote speakers addressed the ELDP throughout the week, including:

  • Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander, INDO-PACOM
  • Mufi Hannemann, President and CEO, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association
  • Rev. Francis X. Hezel, SJ, Author and Historian, Micronesia Studies
  • Kumu Ramsay Taum, Life Enhancement Institute of the Pacific
  • Nainoa Thompson, “Pwo”, Navigator of the Hōkūleʻa

Administered by the Graduate School USA’s Pacific Islands Training Initiative, the ELDP is funded through the Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program, which is funded annually by Congress.

The ELDP was created in 2009 to help island governments in the U.S. territories and the freely associated states address challenges with attracting and retaining qualified individuals to work in core leadership functions. The twenty-four graduates of the 2019 Pacific Executive Leadership Program are:

American Samoa

  • Katrina Hunkin-Seumanutafa
  • Pilivesburg Pezega Salanoa
  • Crystal Elizabeth Simanu


    • John P. Camacho, Jr.
    • Rodalyn May A. Gerardo

    Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands

    • Michelle Cabrera Atalig
    • Ryan Camacho
    • Patricia L.L. Coleman
    • TaAnn Kabua-Demapan
    • Roxalyn Kaminanga

    Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) - National Government

    • Erick Paul
    • Shaun Suliol

    Chuuk State, FSM

    • Sherlyn T. Reynold
    • Wisney Nakayama

    Pohnpei State, FSM

    • Mitaro I. Simina

    Yap State, FSM

    • Vallynna Gippin

    Republic of the Marshall Islands

    • Maybelline Bing
    • Laurence E. Edwards, II
    • Holden Nena
    • Isabela Silk
    • Francyne Wase-Jacklick

    Republic of Palau

    • Antonnette Odeurengul Merur
    • Sunny Ochob Ngirmang
    • Cheryl-Ann Udui

    The full video of congratulatory remarks can be viewed on Vimeo

    Republic of the Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine
    Republic of the Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine speaks to the 2019 graduating class of the Pacific Executive Leadership Development Program in Honolulu on Friday, June 14, 2019. Courtesy photo.


    Rodalyn Gerardo (Guam), at podium, Sherlyn Reynold (Chuuk) and Katrina Hunkin-Seumanutafa (American Samoa), in background, present final project to panelists, June 14, 2019. Courtesy photo.

    The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs 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.


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