CNMI participant Frankie Eliptico represented the 2015 class of the Graduate School USA’s Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP). Twenty-two (22) participants from throughout the U.S. affiliated insular areas represented the 2015 graduating class of the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP). ELDP graduation ceremonies were held on June 12, 2015 at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The ELDP is funded by the U. S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs and administered by the Graduate School USA’s Pacific Islands Training Initiative.

Mr. Eliptico’s full remarks are below:

Good afternoon.  Director Nik Pula, Ms. Marion Higa, Dr. Pat Keehley, Graduate School representatives, honored guests, and finally, my fellow graduates,

Wow!  What an incredible journey the last twelve months have been.  We all remember very vividly over a year ago when we first met on Guam.  We were all among strangers, without any expectation but perhaps a small—tiny—anticipation of turning out to be transformational, phenomenal leaders of the Pacific that we would become, through the Executive Leadership Development Program.  Our first meeting happened last year in July in a cramped, private section of the Tony Roma’s restaurant, where we were sizing each other up, wondering about each other, thoughts filled with whom we would connect with, not really sure what to expect.  We kept things close to our chests.

Little did we know that over the course of one year we would be challenged in ways we would have never thought: enduring grueling nights working on group projects, managing the difficulties of coordinating team projects across the Pacific, and enduring the anguish that was MicroPoly.  All the while, we deepened our understanding about true leadership, what great vision can accomplish, what impact good governance can have, and what genuine humility really was.

In Guam we learned about perseverance from highly respected leaders like Speaker Judy Won Pat, and Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood.  In Samoa we were inspired by Interior Assistant Secretary Esther Kia’aina, and given good, savvy advice by businessman Adolpho Montenegro.  And in Palau we were lifted by the words of Senator Kathy Kesolei about her humble beginnings, and moved to action by the environmental activism of President Tommy Remengesau.  Earlier this week we were encouraged by former Hawaii governor John Waihee, and roused by businessman Duane Kurisu, who stressed that we, Pacific Islanders, are just as good as any business or government leader in the world, because–as he said–Pacific Islanders speak and act from our hearts.

This actually brings to mind the words of Glenn Furuya, who’s also in the audience, and who spent considerable time with us, reminding us that we Pacific islanders are hard-wired for leadership, and that we should shed any feelings of inferiority or weakness because we, as Pacific Islanders, should instead be proud of the strong and vibrant lineage that we come from.  Glenn and Debbie, and on behalf of this ELDP cohort, thank you for sharing your wisdom, and most importantly, thank you for helping us to navigate one of the most challenging and most difficult experiences that this group has undergone.  You helped flip an adverse situation into one that transformed this group from mere acquaintances to lifelong friends.  Thank you for that.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Stephen Latimer, Jason Aubuchon, Brad Dude, Cheryle Broom and the Graduate School. Thank you for making the ELDP one of the greatest experiences of our lives.

And to my fellow graduates: I definitely won some galactic lottery when I was selected to be on this amazing journey with you all.  The dynamics of this group can never be duplicated, and I will always cherish every moment that we’ve shared–whether in a disco bus in American Samoa, or on the back of Darnelle’s pick-up truck in Palau.  In my lifetime, in our lifetime, it will be difficult to find someone…

  • As hospitable as Lina,
  • As expressive as Sala,
  • As supportive as Selina,
  • As considerate as Priscilla,
  • As compassionate as Shanty,
  • As wise as Kemsky,
  • As unselfish as Donna,
  • As courageous as Angeline,
  • As humble as Junior,
  • As full of life as Umerang,
  • As focused as Natalia,
  • As spirited as Alfreda,
  • As kind-hearted as Sermina,
  • As thorough as Llewelyn,
  • As astute as Brandon,
  • As clever as Pressler,
  • As loyal as Darnelle,
  • As thoughtful as Roxanne,
  • As dependable as Mingrang,
  • As persevering as Leifi,
  • And Terry, sweet Terry, I will never find someone with quite the unique qualities you have. Thank you for helping to get us through situations with humor and wit.

Director Nik Pula, your continued support of the ELDP has been a blessing for Micronesia. As you know, the Pacific islands are at a crossroads.  There are many challenges that are confronting our island right now, from rebuilding sluggish economies, to expanding environmental protections, to discouraging government excess, to re-imagining innovations in education.  Be comforted in the fact that the group of graduates here today represent the best in the Pacific and have no reservations about tackling these issues head-on.  In this group you will surely find the next Baily Olter, the next Utu Abe Malae, the next Dr. Rita Inos, the next Tommy Remengesau, Amata Kabua, and the next John Mangefel.  Because if there’s anything I’ve learned this past year, it’s this: where others are weak, this group will be strong.  Where others see despair and gloom, we will find sparks of hope.  Where others find hardship and difficulty, we will find opportunity.  And when others find the end, we will find the start of a new beginning.

I have never been so proud to be part of anything before as I am to have been a member of this team.  Thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the 2015 class of ELDP.  Congratulations, graduates!

The 2015 ELDP graduating class included:

(American Samoa) Magdalene Petaia, Salamasina Jessica Satele, Leifiloa Tanoi; (Chuuk) Sermina Namelo; (CNMI) Alfreda Camacho, Frankie Eliptico; (Guam) Llewelyn Terlaje, Natalia Faculo, Selina Onedera-Salas; (FSM National Government) Kemsky Sigrah, Shanty Sigrah-Asher; (Kosrae) Priscilla Laborete; (Marshall Islands) Angeline Heine, Donna Lanej, Junior Aini, Terry Hazzard; (Palau) Darnelle Decherong, Mingrang Kloulechad, Roxanne Blesam, Umerang Imetengel; (Pohnpei) Brandon Tara, Pressler Martin.

The 2015 ELDP graduating class represents the fourth ELDP program.  Since its inception in 2008, eighty-one participants from across the Pacific have completed the ELDP program.  Additional information on the Executive Leadership Development Program can be found online at The application process for the fifth ELDP cohort is expected to begin February, 2016.

ELDP 2015 Graduates

Alfreda Camacho

Angeline Heine

Brandon Tara

Darnelle Decherong

Donna Lanej

Frankie Eliptico

Junior Aini

Kemsky Sigrah

Leifiloa Tanoi

Llewelyn Terlaje

Magdalene Petaia

Mingrang Kloulechad

Natalia Faculo

Pressler Martin

Priscilla Laborete

Roxanne Blesam

Salamasina Jessica Satele

Selina Onedera-Salas

Sermina Namelo

Shanty Sigrah-Asher

Terry Hazzard

Umerang Imetengel


Additional information on the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) can be found online at