Elbuchel Sadang, Chairman Regional member, February 2014 – present
Elbuchel Sadang serves as the Republic of Palau’s Minister of Finance after a stint as the President’s Chief of Staff serving the post less than three months. Previously, Mr. Sadang served as Executive Director of Palau Conservation Society. Prior to his tenure at Palau Conservation Society, from 2001 to 2009 Mr. Sadang served two full terms as Minister of Finance under the previous Remengesau Administration. He also held numerous civic positions to include Vice President of Administration and Dean of Business at the Palau Community College, appointed as Palau’s Governor to the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and also served on several boards to include the Palau International Coral Reef Center and the Civil Service Pension Plan Board of Directors. Staying true to his roots, Mr. Sadang is also Chief Ngirameketii of his village in the State of Ngaraard and is very active in village meetings, community activities and local events. Mr. Sadang earned his BS in Economics from Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan. His professional Memberships include: Member, Pacific Island Development Bank Board of Directors; Governor, Asian Development Bank, representing the Republic of Palau; Member, Asian Pacific Association for Fiduciary Studies; Governor, International Monetary Fund, representing the Republic of Palau; President, Island Government Finance Officers Association (IGFOA); Member, Island Government Finance Officers Association IGFAO) (CNMI, Palau, FSM, RMI, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands membership, promoting sound public financial management in the insular areas).
Diego Benavente, Vice Chairman Regional member, September 2015 – present
Since 2011 Diego Benavente has focused his energies on his consulting firm, Benavente Consulting, leveraging his extensive background in local, regional and federal issues, twenty years in private sector retail and construction and nineteen years as an elected official. He served a total of fourteen years as a Member of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives, including terms as Speaker of the House, Vice Speaker, Chairman of the Committee on Federal and Foreign Relation, Member of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures and Chairman of the Taskforce on the Pacific Islands Development Bank. From 2002 to 2006 he served as Lieutenant Governor, CNMI Executive Branch during which time he was Chairman of the CNMI Water Task Force, the Governor’s Representative, Covenant Section 702 Negotiations, Chairman of the CNMI Solid Waste Task Force, Chairman of the Pacific Islands Development Bank (PIDB) Board of Governors, the CNMI Representative to U.S. Congressional Committees. He began his career in the private sector in 1979 with the Industrial Electric Motor Corp in Twin Falls, Idaho and then as the General Manager for RM Construction Co. and as the Owner, Diego’s Mart Inc. in CNMI His educational background includes the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho and the CNMI Police Academy of Saipan, CNMI. Mr. Benavente’s professional affiliations and memberships include Member, PIDB Board of Governors and Board of Directors, Member, Saipan Fishermen’s Association, and Member, CNMI Retirees Association.
Anna H. Mendiola, Treasurer Regional member, June 2018 – present
Anna H. Mendiola has been the President and Chief Executive officer of the FSM Development Bank (FSMDB) since March 2001. Prior to her current appointment, she served as Chief Financial Officer of the FSMDB for one year. From 1986 to 2000, Ms. Mendiola held various high-level positions with the FSM National Government and Pohnpei State Government ranging from Assistant Secretary for International Development Finance to Director of Treasury and Administration. She also worked for the Asian Development Bank as an Assistant to the Executive Director of the Australian Constituency for two years. She also served as a Board member to various National and State owned Corporations. She is currently serving on the Bank of FSM Board of Directors and FSM Telecommunication Cable Corporation. She also serves as a board member on some regional organizations, such as the Association of Development Finance Institutes in Asia and Pacific (ADFIAP), Asia Pacific Association for Fiduciary Studies (APFAS), Association of DFIs in the Pacific (ADFIP) and the Microfinance Pasifika. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from California Coast University and a Bachelor’s degree in Business/Economics from the Eastern Oregon University. She is an fi360 Accredited Investment Fiduciary.
Rhea Moss-Christian, Secretary Regional member, July 2019 – present
Rhea Moss-Christian currently serves as Chair of the Marshall Islands National Nuclear Commission, a national entity established to address outstanding issues resulting from the U.S. nuclear testing program in the Marshall Islands from 1946-1958. Prior to taking up her current role, Rhea was the Chair of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) for four years from 2015-2018, the first woman to hold the post. Her fisheries career spans over 20 years and includes fisheries management experience with the United States National Marine Fisheries Service in Honolulu, HI from 2005-2009, the FSM National Oceanic Resources Management Authority in Pohnpei from 2009-2012, and multiple ocean-related posts with the Marshall Islands Government beginning with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1997. Rhea graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1996 with a B.A. in Politics. She later received a Master of Arts degree in International Policy from Stanford University and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies from Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Rhea is also a part time consultant for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency FFA), providing strategic advice to FFA members on matters relating to the WCPFC. She resides in Pohnpei, FSM, with her husband and daughter.
Austin J. Shelton III, PhD Regional member, September 2019 – present
Dr. Austin Shelton joined the faculty of the University of Guam (UOG) in 2016 as an assistant professor of extension and outreach. Shelton later received appointments to concurrently serve as the executive director of the UOG Center for Island Sustainability and director of UOG Sea Grant. He leads initiatives that support the transition of island communities toward a sustainable future. Current activities include aligning with U.N Sustainable Development Goals and stimulating island circular economy industries.
A native of Guam, Shelton grew up observing environmental challenges of island communities and was inspired to become a marine and environmental scientist. Shelton conducts research to revive island ecosystems and builds STEM capacity in Pacific Islander communities through student research experiences and science fairs. Shelton manages a portfolio of grants exceeding $9.5 million as principal investigator or co-principal investigator from Sea Grant (NOAA), National Science Foundation (NSF) EPSCoR, NSF INCLUDES, Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hawaii-Pacific Islands Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Units (U.S. Navy), and the Northern and Southern Guam Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Shelton coordinates multiple regional and international collaborations as the representative of the Guam focal point for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), delegate to the National Sea Grant Association, and UOG member representative to the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes.
Shelton earned a B.S. degree in marine biology from Hawai`i Pacific University and both an M.S. and Ph.D. in zoology with a specialization in marine biology from the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa.
Francis Carlos Domnick Regional member, September 2019 – present
Mr. Domnick started his career at the RMI Ministry of Resources and Development (R&D) as a Trade and Investment Policy Officer. This job entitled Mr. Domnick to be the head informant of the government’s trade and investment policies. After three years of service to the Ministry of R&D, Mr. Domnick continued his career at the national college, College of the Marshall Islands (CMI), as the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). As the CAO, Mr. Domnick was responsible for the daily upkeeps of the Office of the College’s President. It was from this job that Mr. Domnick got a feel of the construction business. As CAO, Mr. Domnick was also the Head of the Physical Plant and he was responsible for the implementation of planned construction and maintenance projects. After two years of service to the College of the Marshall Islands, Mr. Domnick then joined his father’s firm where he became the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Anil Development, Inc. As the CEO, Mr. Domnick administers the daily operation of the two companies Anil Construction Company and DAR Sales and Services. Since his inception at the firm, Anil Development, Inc. has witnessed strong growth in both its two subsidiary companies. Anil Construction Company was awarded many government contracts. DAR Sales and Services continually experienced strong growth in sales accumulation of assets. The employees of Anil Development, Inc. felt a sense of pride in and devotion to their work. His entrance into the construction arena has stimulated much hope from the Majuro business community as competition increased in the area. After 11 years of service to his father’s firm in 2018, Mr. Domnick took on the Chief Executive Officer post at the RMI Government’s Office of Commerce, Investment & Tourism. This office aims to promote private sector and tourism business, growth and development in the country.
Other attainments to note about Mr. Domnick are that he was the President of the Majuro Chamber of Commerce in the year 2005. He attained his Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation in 2015. He works tirelessly to develop the commercial (Private) sector of the Marshall Islands with the hope that the Marshall Islands will soon become a strong trading hub in the Pacific.
Mr. Domnick earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration (International Business Concentration) from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama, USA in 2001. In 2012, he earned a Master of Business Administration (Corporate Finance Concentration) from the University of South Pacific, Majuro, Marshall Islands.
Bernd Cordes International member, September 2018 – present
Bernd is a Program Officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, helping to manage its Oceans and Seafood Markets Initiative. He has also worked as an independent consultant, as a Senior Research Program Manager (Oceans) for Vulcan, Inc. and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and for twelve years as a Program Officer at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, where he led the Western Pacific and Marine Birds Conservation programs. Prior to that, he lived and worked in Indonesia on enterprise-driven conservation projects in the forests and coastal waters of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Melanesia. In all, Bernd has worked for or with philanthropic agencies and conservation organizations for 25 years, mostly in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific. Bernd holds an A.B. in diplomacy and world affairs from Occidental College, and a Master of Public Policy studies and a Master of Arts in Southeast Asian studies, both from the University of Michigan. Bernd first became involved with the Micronesia Conservation Trust just after its inception, while he was representing the Packard Foundation and guiding its early grants in support of MCT’s growth.
Megumi Araki International member, November 2014 – present
A native of Japan, Mr. Araki earned his in English philology & Linguistics from the Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Japan. He later earned his MBA from the Ateneo de Manila University Graduate School of Business, the Philippines. Professionally, his career has included several high-level positions in finance, auditing and international philanthropy. He currently serves as the Director for the Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC). He also serves as a Corporate Auditor for SBI Pharma (since July 2013) and he also serves as an Advisor for SBI Holdings (since 2012). He was the Principal Financing Partnerships Specialist, Office of Co-financing Operations (OCO), for the Asian Development Bank from Aug 2008 to Mar 2012 (Team leader for co-financing with donors in East Asia, Middle East, North America and Oceania). Also with the ADB, he served as the Senior Financing Partnerships Specialist, OCO, ADB, Aug 2003 - Aug 2008 (in charge of Japan Funds, plus JBIC/JICA loan cofinancing), and the Japan Special Fund Coordinator, OCO, ADB, July 2001 - Aug 2003 (in charge of Japan Funds). Earlier in his career, he served as the Senior Administrative Officer, ADB Institute (located in Tokyo), ADB, July 1998 - July 2001 (helped setting up the office in charge of personnel, accounting, and general issues) and as the Liaison Officer, ADB Japan Representative Office, ADB, July 1996-July 1998 (contributed to the inception period of the office). His government experience includes serving as the Financial Inspector, Ministry of Finance, Japan, July 1994 - July 1996 and the Deputy Director, Development Finance Division, Ministry of Finance, Japan, July 1992 - July 1994 (attended several donors meetings, GOJ missions).
Doreen deBrum International member, April 2019 – present
Doreen deBrum earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administrative Management in 1999, with concentrations in Political Science and International Business. She later earned a Master’s Certificate in Public Management from Missouri State University in 2005. Other professional training and qualifications include: Certificate, FAO Project Management Cycle (2010); Certificate, Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Training (2010); Certificate, Sustainable Development through Environmental Education in Kobe, Japan (2008), among others. She previously served as the Fisheries Policy Advisor to the Marshall Islands Marine Resource Authority as well as the FAO Consultant for the RMI Ministry of Resources and Development from 2010 to 2012. She also worked for the Sprint Executive Office in Kansas City Missouri as an Accounts Executive from 2006 to 2008. She also served as the Undersecretary for Asia/Pacific Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Majuro from 1999 to 2005. She speaks English and Marshallese fluently as well as enjoying competence with written and spoken Japanese. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Marshall Islands Conservation Society, is a Support Member of the Micronesia Challenge Steering Committee, a member of the Pacific Islands Managed and Protected Areas Community, a member of the Micronesians in Island Conservation and Women United Together in the Marshall Islands.
Trina Leberer Honorary member, January 2012 – present
Trina Leberer is the Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Micronesia Program. Trina has lived on the island of Guam since 1994. She has an MSc in Biology from the University of Guam Marine Laboratory and a BA in Environmental, Populational and Organismic Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Before joining the Conservancy in 2004, Trina worked for the Guam Department of Agriculture, Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources for seven years as a biologist, Fisheries Supervisor, and Acting Chief. As Marine Conservation Coordinator, her first position with the Conservancy’s Micronesia Program, she assisted partners in the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, and Guam at priority marine and coastal conservation areas in the design and implementation of site conservation plans, worked as part of a region-wide team to develop networks of trained practitioners focused on planning and management at high priority portfolio conservation areas, helped improve linkage of site conservation plans to annual goals and appropriate National Plans, and helped develop efficient and effective broad-scale monitoring programs for land- and seascape projects. Trina became the Conservancy’s Micronesia Program Director in 2009, and now leads a team of nine focused on assisting partners to achieve the goals of the Micronesia Challenge.