NMTI CEO urges Senate to confirm 2 board nominees

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THE Senate has to confirm the governor’s two board nominees so that the Northern Marianas Technical Institute can obtain a $10 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for the construction of a new campus in Koblerville.

NMTI Chief Executive Officer Agnes McPhetres emphasized the urgency of the situation to the Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations during a public hearing on the nomination of Catherine Attao to the NMTI board of trustees on Tuesday.

The hearing was conducted by the EAGI chairman, Sen. Frank Cruz, with only one other member in attendance, Sen. Vinnie Sablan.

Those who testified before the committee expressed strong support for Attao’s confirmation.

Among them was McPhetres who also told the senators that it is urgent for NMTI to have a complete board of trustees in order to officially become a public technical institute.

She said the federal government has been waiting to hear if NMTI already has a complete board of trustees.

The board currently has two vacant seats. Aside from Attao, the other board nominee is Rota’s Derron Mendiola who has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

The Senate has so far confirmed five NMTI board members — Irene Holl, Rick Kautz, Marion Valentino, Ray Pangelinan, and Carmelita Faisao.

For his part, Senator Cruz said he recognizes the importance of having a complete board of trustees, adding that his committee is taking each nomination seriously because he knows the importance of NMTI’s role in building a local workforce.

Full support

On behalf of the Torres-Palacios administration, Press Secretary Kevin Bautista. introduced Attao to the Senate committee.

Attao is vice president for corporate affairs and human resources of Tan Holdings Corp. She is a former teacher at Hopwood Middle School, and a former manager of the Transportation Security Administration.

Bautista said as a former public school teacher, Attao knows the importance of quality education, and during her time with TSA, she collaborated with workforce leaders “to improve the quality of services and personnel at an important federal agency.”

In her current position, Bautista added, Attao “understands our workforce needs and leverages her resources to develop and train local workforce capacity.”

Northern Marianas Technical Institute board nominee Catherine Attao, left, and NMTI chief executive officer Agnes M. McPhetres appear before the Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations during a public hearing on Tuesday in the Senate chamber. On the right is Press Secretary Kevin Bautista.  Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

In addition, he said, Attao is a very active member in the community.

“I have personally served with her on the Marianas March Against Cancer board. She also plays an integral role in community sports as a member of the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association, the Kanoa Futbol Club, and as the head coach for the Mount Carmel Girls Basketball Team and Soccer Program,” Bautista said.

“Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Palacios place their full trust and confidence in Ms. Attao as a member of the NMTI board,” Bautista told the Senate committee. “I know she stands ready to answer your questions and will be ready to report on her goals as a member, which includes bridging the gap between NMTI, our business partners, and future students [who are] interested to be a part of the trades industry. Her leadership and her ability to work well with the local government, private sector, and federal partners make her the perfect candidate for the board.”

Bautista added, “NMTI deserves a board member who will look out for the best interest of their students and their institution, and we are sure that Ms. Attao will work together with her colleagues to improve the quality of education and services provided to all students.”

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