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eldp-white Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Background
  2. Responsibility of the Insular Areas
  3. Components of the ELDP
  4. Managing the ELDP
  5. ELDP Schedule

1. Background

The Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) was developed in response to the insular areas’ growing concerns for continuity in management and technical expertise as senior leaders retire or leave government service.

Why is it important to establish an Executive Leadership Development Program?

The insular areas have experienced many challenges to developing and retaining qualified, skilled staff. Additionally, many career senior leaders and managers in the insular governments are expected to retire within the next several years, leaving a potential gap in leadership, managerial and technical capability. The insular areas need to establish a pool of staff with potential for promotion into these key positions and groom them through training programs, special assignments, and systematic mentoring.

Who will organize and manage the ELDP?

The insular governments recognize the need to identify and develop staff to ensure that turnover of key individuals does not adversely impact government operations. However, the insular governments lack the funding and resources to establish an inter-governmental initiative. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs (DOI-OIA) has turned to its partner, the Graduate School USA, to continue managing the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) through the Pacific and Virgin Islands Training Initiative (PITI-VITI).

Which insular governments can participate?

All of the US-affiliated insular areas are invited to participate in the ELDP, including the flag territories (American Samoa; Guam; U.S. Virgin Islands; Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands) and freely associated states (Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia). The ELDP is open to all government agencies and government enterprise organizations.

2. Responsibilities of the Insular Areas

The insular areas play a key role for the continued success of the ELDP. The governments can tailor many aspects of the participant developmental process to their unique needs. For example, governments may identify projects that are important to the government that can also serve as a developmental assignment for participants. Government mentors will provide insular-specific career guidance and advice. Participants may be required to bring government data, policies, and other public information to use in training sessions.

What is required from the insular governments?

Since the initial class was offered in 2008, the insular governments have been very supportive of ELDP program participants and instructors. The future success of the ELDP will not be achievable without the continued support of the insular governments. In 2020 the insular governments are expected to:

  • Disseminate information on the program and application process throughout the government and independent agencies. 
  • Encourage potential candidates to apply.
  • Support the participants throughout the ELDP program year by encouraging projects, developmental assignments, and other professional experiences.
  • Ensure the participants have support from their immediate supervisors to participate in both the on-island and off-island activities.
  • Establish clear expectations for participants’ continued employment after completion of the program and communicate those expectations in writing to the program participant.   
  • When scheduled, support ELDP activities on-island.

Who is eligible to participate in the ELDP?

ELDP application criteria are flexible. The selection panel will evaluate applicants based on their:

  • Potential for professional development.
  • Formal education.
  • Likelihood of remaining with the government after the program.
  • Commitment to government service and personal growth.

Highly qualified candidates typically:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or have equivalent professional experience.
  • Completed a minimum of two years employment with the insular government prior to the start of the program.
  • Received outstanding performance evaluations for the past two years.
  • Received a nomination to the program by the highest-level official in the department and the immediate supervisor.
  • Expressed an interest in, and demonstrated personal commitment to, public service.

3. Components of the ELDP

The ELDP will offer five major components: formal training, mentoring, various developmental and reading assignments, and a major team project.  Each training session, scheduled one time per quarter over twelve months, will blend technical, managerial and leadership skills development. Participants will be assigned projects and activities that must be completed between training sessions.  These assignments will have practical workplace applications, and they will be monitored closely and evaluated by ELDP instructors.

What are the components of the ELDP?

Participants in the ELDP will experience five major components:

  • Formal training. ELDP participants will meet as a cohort for four, one-week sessions during the twelve months. During the initial week, each participant will receive a 360° assessment of their leadership competencies as well as feedback on their interpersonal and leadership styles. This information will provide the foundation for learning throughout the year. In subsequent weeks, training will focus on managerial and leadership skills, as well as fiscal and project management. Various learning methods will be used.
  • Mentoring. During the first formal training session, each participant will identify one or two individuals within their government who may be a good mentor for them throughout the program. Once the mentoring relationship is established, the participant and the mentor will meet regularly to discuss the individual’s progress, challenges, or other topics of interest. The program participant will be encouraged to learn how the mentor achieved success and think about how the mentor’s characteristics, habits, or philosophy can be incorporated into the mentee’s own style. Participants will be asked to report on the mentoring experience when they meet as a cohort for formal training.
  • Individual Leadership Development Plan (ILDP). As part of the 360° assessment in the first training session, participants will identify and describe developmental activities they will undertake during the twelve months to address growth areas identified in the assessment. The developmental activities will focus on tangible things participants can do to enhance their leadership skills. Participants will also develop short and longer term career goals.
  • Reading Assignments and Leadership Interviews. Participants will be provided with a leadership book and other reading assignments to be completed between the formal training sessions. They will also receive a reading list which provides book suggestions for each of the 28 leadership competencies addressed in the 360° assessment. Participants will also be tasked with interviewing leaders within their governments and/or communities as a way to gain insight into different leadership philosophies.
  • Team project.. Under the supervision of the ELDP program faculty and the PITI/VITI Senior Program Manager, each ELDP participant will participate on a team to define and complete a major project. The project will be applicable to real world issues currently faced in the islands. It will encourage cross-government sharing of information and provide participants with the opportunity to work closely with other members of their cohort.

What formal training is planned for the ELDP participants?

Four one-week formal training sessions are planned during the twelve months. Program participants are required to attend all of these sessions. During Session #1, participants will gain insight into their own leadership strengths and areas for improvement. Session #2 will combine self-leadership concepts with skills to lead others. In Session #3, participants will be immersed in an in-depth case study to learn about the fiscal and economic challenges of small island governments, and to develop policy advocacy skills. Session #4 will be dedicated to reinforcing concepts learned throughout the year, to making final team project presentations, and to celebrating the participants’ growth during the ELDP. During each of the weeks, various guest speakers will address the group, and ELDP faculty will meet individually with participants to track their progress.

What are the Proposed Modules and Course Descriptions?

The ELDP schedule, graduation requirements, and session descriptions can be found online, under the program description of the ELDP website. Please visit for additional information.

4. Managing the ELDP

The ELDP will require shared responsibility for insuring smooth and successful implementation. All travel and administrative expenses associated with the ELDP class of 2017 will be funded by OIA and managed on a day-to-day basis by the Graduate School, PITI. The ELDP will draw heavily on the expertise and interests of the insular areas when curriculum is developed and courses are organized.

What are the tuition costs?

All costs associated with the first two cohorts are funded by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, including travel, instructional materials, and program administrative costs. In future years the insular governments may be expected to pay a portion of the program expenses, such as travel, lodging, and meals for participants from their respective governments.

What is the anticipated size of each cohort group?

Ideally, each insular government will send two to three individuals to each cohort, resulting in a class of approximately 18 to 21 individuals.

Are all applicants accepted into the ELDP?

Not all individuals who apply to the program will be accepted. ELDP applicants go through a rigorous review and selection process, and only the most highly qualified applicants are admitted.

How are ELDP Participants Selected?

Completed applications must be received by the PITI-VITI office no later than April 30, 2020. Applicants submit five documents to complete an application—the application form itself, a resume, a letter of intent, a brief biography suitable for public release, and a letter from their supervisor. An optional letter of support from an ELDP graduate is recommended, but not required.

The ELDP 2021 selection committee consists of representatives from the Graduate School, PITI-VITI program, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, and an Independent Reviewer. The selection committee reviews the applications to ensure they are complete and the applicants meet minimum qualification standards. The selection committee members independently review and rate each application package. Although rating applicants is inherently a subjective process, the selection committee uses structured scoring guidelines to rate each application. The scoring guidelines are intended to provide a broad framework within which to make the acceptance decision. The scoring system and guidelines for each document comprising the applications are presented below:

Maximum Points Possible
Application Form10
Letter of Intent25
Letter from Supervisor10
Biography 10
Assessment of Potential20
Alumni Letter of Support (optional)0
Maximum Total Points Possible100

The selection committee strives to create a diverse class that appropriately represents all of the insular governments, technical areas, gender, and ethnicity.

What is the timeline for implementing additional ELDP cohorts?

Currently, cohorts will meet one time per quarter over a twelve-month period. The number of training sessions and overall timeline will be adjusted to meet the needs of the insular governments and other factors that could influence the schedule. The schedule for the 2020-21 ELDP cohort is included below.

5. Schedule for the ELDP

What is the schedule for the 2020-2021 ELDP?

February 15, 2020ELDP Announced; Applications Received
April 30, 2020Application Process Closes
June 15, 2020Candidates for the ELDP class of 2017 Announced
August 17-22, 2020Session #1 - Leading Self.
Class hosted by Guam.
November 2-7, 2020Session #2 - Leading Others.
Class hosted by the Marshall Islands.
February 1-6, 2021Session #3 - Leading Institutions.
Class hosted by CNMI.
June 7-12, 2021Session #4 - Capstone - Looking to the Future.
Class held in Honolulu, HI.

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Camera Photo Gallery

Photos from recent activities hosted by the Pacific and Virgin Islands Training Initiatives (PITI-VITI) in support of conferences, training and leadership development, are available below.