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Interior congratulates 24 graduates of Pacific leadership program

WASHINGTON (Press Release) — U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs, Doug Domenech congratulated the 24 new graduates of the Pacific Executive Leadership Development Program or 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 President of the Guam Community College, Dr. Mary Okada.

“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:

  • • Adm. Philip Davidson, commander, Indo-Pacific Command
  • • 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 Hōkūle’a

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 the U.S. 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 2019 graduates of the Pacific ELDP, Honolulu, Hawaii, June 14, 2019.   Contributed photosThe 2019 graduates of the Pacific ELDP, Honolulu, Hawaii, June 14, 2019. Contributed photos

The 24 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


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

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

Marshall Islands

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


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

The full video of congratulatory remarks can be viewed at: