Office of Interior Island Affairs Congratulates Leadership Program Graduates | News

WASHINGTON, DC (Press release) — The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Island Affairs congratulates the 23 new graduates from the Pacific Islands who successfully completed the Executive Leadership Development Program or ELDP and participated in a commencement ceremony on Thursday, March 10, 2022.

Program participants represented American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Republic of Palau.

OIA Director Nikolao Pula gave a welcome speech to more than 100 alumni, family members and friends who joined the 23 graduates in celebrating their graduation. In her remarks, Pula acknowledged the challenge of participating in a virtual ELDP program, given pandemic travel restrictions, and encouraged graduates to use their new skills in service to their islands.

The 2021-2022 Executive Leadership Cohort, listed by island area:

Faith Availepule, Environmental Protection Agency, AS

Marcella Fitisone, Ministry of Education, AS

Mikaela Saelua, Ministry of Education, AS

Jasper Tuiasosopo, Ministry of Education, AS

Bradford Mori, Chuuk Environmental Protection Agency, FSM

Nicole Babauta, Center for Small Business Development, CNMI

Antonio Borja, Commonwealth Ports Authority, CNMI

Janice Castro, NOAA, CNMI

Christopher Concepcion, Office of Planning and Development, CNMI

Bobby Cruz, public school system, CNMI

Padwick Gallen, MD, Pohnpei State Hospital, FSM

Serleen Hadley Walliby, Pohnpei State Legislature, FSM

Ramona Duenas, Department of Education, Guam

T’Nelta Mori, Office of Congressman Michael FQ San Nicolas, Guam

Jesse Quenga, Ethics Commission, Guam

Myra Adelbai-Fraser, Ministry of Health, Palau

Kimberly Idip, Ministry of Health, Palau

Jovalyn Ilong Koshiba, Housing Authority, Palau

Martin Moore, Office of Island Affairs, DOI

Rachel Bigler, Health and Social Services, RMI

Tamera Heine, Office of the Consul General in Hawaii, RMI

Malie Tarbwillin, Ministry of Finance, RMI

Ayako Yamaguchi-Eliou, Ministry of Finance, RMI

The Department of Interior’s Office of Island Affairs has engaged the Graduate School to develop and implement the ELDP to assist island region governments to develop and retain the skilled and qualified personnel needed to run island governments to the future. Since 2008, OIA has supported the participation of 178 young leaders who have completed the program.

A similar program for U.S. Virgin Islands students called the USVI Executive Leadership Program operates in Washington, D.C. and other East Coast locations, where students join U.S. federal employees for training. There is a 2022-2023 USVI cohort expected to graduate next summer. For more information on the Graduate School’s Pacific Islands and Virgin Islands Executive Leadership Program and training initiatives, visit their website at

Kevin E. Boling