Ivan “Jimbo” Alafonso gave closing remarks on behalf of the inaugural graduating class of the Executive Leadership Development Program in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 18, 2009. Both the full text and video of his speech is attached below.

Ivan Alafonso Gives ELDP Class Speech from Jason Aubuchon on Vimeo.

Thank you. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to speak on behalf of the group.

Our group today represents a new group trained to constantly improve those very same ideals of governments the first leaders created.

It has been 11 months short of a year since we gathered in Guam. We gathered with nervous smiles unsure of what the program will bring. Some excited, some gong-ho, some relaxed. I was thrilled and ecstatic just to be around bright and aspiring individuals like you.

When the modules of this program say, it intends to train future leaders who will take over positions of importance in their respective governments, that future-as envisioned by Stephen, Jason, Steve, Pat and the PITI team, the other exceptional and inspirational consultants, and the good people of OIA-that future, is down the road. That future may well be within 5 years from today, if not earlier.

Almost 50 years ago in 1961, the Dept of Interior gathered a similar group like ours. The purpose was for these island leaders to learn the democratic system of government, and learn how they can bring that ideology to their islands. These same people formed the Council of Micronesia.

In 1964, they became the Congress of Micronesia, and eventually in the late 1970’s they created their own sub-forms of governments. Saipan opted for commonwealth, RMI, Palau, and FSM for free association. Guam and American Samoa decided to be part of the US.

Those days were about choosing the types of government under the democratic system. I am sure similar instances took place in American Samoa and Guam. They were not perfect, but it was the best they had to work with.

Our group today represents a new group trained to constantly improve those very same ideals of governments the first leaders created. We have learned through this program to understand who we are, our strengths and our weaknesses. We have learned that we, as transformational leaders, must blend the eastern, the western, and the Oceania influences into our characters. We have to be mindful of our financial resources and the management and accounting of those island resources. We have to continue that which our first leaders set out to accomplish with the tools learned and resources available.

Go forth my fellows, be transformational leaders. Lead your communities and lead them well.

I have only two short messages to share and one question to ask. First message…This message is a message of gratitude to the Office of Insular Affairs for its financial support-gratitude for the partaking of wise counsel from our esteemed consultants-and the hardworking folks at PITI/VITI for arranging this program…I thank you on behalf of this group. Fokkun kinisou chapur. This…is an exceptional program!

Second message is a message of advice to the new ELDP participants. Congratulations for being accepted into the 2nd inaugural ELDP. You are accepted because you are bright and you aspire to become a leader. Remember to walk softly and learn as much because this program reflects the wisdom of many over the years.

Finally-my question…This question is for my fellow ELDP members. Why are YOU here? Why do you want to be a leader? From your letters of intent you sent to the ELDP Selection Committee, you answered this question. HOWEVER, my question is, deep down inside your good hearts, why do YOU want to be a leader?

Is it recognition you seek?

Is it validation in the eyes of your peers and perhaps perceived enemies?

Is it because you want to change something that you believe is not working?

Or is it because you want to advance in your career?

Think deep. Take a moment in your life to you really think about why you want to be a leader. When you have that answer, trust me you, a desire will burn in you. All activities you involve yourself in will be but manifestations of what you want to achieve-who you want to become.

Leaders of history did not wake up one day and say, “I’m going to be a leader.” Circumstances in their environment propelled them to do the great things they did. Not because it was easy but because it was a desire that burned within their hearts no matter how hard it was to please that desire. Many leaders of peoples have either done good or bad. The bottom line is, they had a burning desire. A burning passion. One of Homer’s characters-not Homer from the Simpsons show-but of the Iliad Book of Poems- in the incredible story of Helen of Troy exemplified this idea in her poem. It reads,

Some say a host of horsemen, others of infantry and others of ships, is the most beautiful thing on the dark earth but I say, it is what you love.

The object of your love and burning desire will define why YOU want to be a leader. WHY do YOU want to be a leader?

When you have that answer, always remember the Sermon on the Mount…. “Be salt upon the earth.” Be light upon the earth…Upon your nations, upon your islands, upon your communities, and upon your families. Be salt upon them and be light amongst them. Give a brightness and flavor to their lives. Give them a reason to do good. Give them a reason to do well.

Go forth my fellows, be transformational leaders. Lead your communities and lead them well.

With this, I thank the ELDP program, the sponsors, and the supporters. Thank you. Kalahngan, Si yuus ma’ase, Mesulang, Komol tata, Kamagar, Kulo mulalap, Mahalo, and my personal favorite…Fa’a Fetai-Tele Lava.

Additional information on the program can be found online at http://eldp.pitiviti.org.