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Leilua Stevenson appointed as new DBAS president

fili@samoanews.com

With concurrence of the Development Bank of American Samoa board of directors, Gov. Togiola Tulafono has appointed Leilua Stevenson as the new DBAS president, an appointment subject to Senate confirmation.

Local law states that the governor, with the approval of the board, appoints a bank president, who must be confirmed by the Senate only. The DBAS president is responsible for the operation of the bank with the assistance of such other officers and employees as the Board may authorize. The Board establishes the salary of the President and other officers.

Stevenson, a former Miss American Samoa and the 1993 Miss South Pacific, has been director of the Department of Human and Social Service since March of 2009, when she was appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Fono. She had previously served as comptroller at StarKist Samoa.

Togiola tapped Stevenson, daughter of Sen. Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson, at the time to assist the DHSS in meeting federal compliance on grant funds that were in jeopardy with the high-risk designation.

In his Sept. 19 nomination letter to Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie, the governor said the DBAS president’s post has been vacant now since the departure of Lolo M. Moliga in June and he appointed Stevenson for the post.

“I have worked with Ms. Stevenson as a cabinet member and find her professional abilities in the field of accounting and finance to be superior and her personal ethnics and integrity to be equally outstanding,” the governor wrote.

She managed DHSS “with great pride and determination, and turned the department around successfully into one of our most outstanding departments today,” he pointed out. “She is a great asset to our people and government.”

“I hate to have to ask her to take on another assignment after a successful tenure with DHSS but I believe we need a strong and highly competent professional at the DBAS at this time,” said Togiola. 

“I have the absolute confidence in the professional ability and personal integrity of Ms. Stevenson to assist the board in meeting its mandate, and to help guide their decisions in the management of the bank towards the future with a high degree of competence,” said the governor, who “strongly urged” the Senate approval of the nomination before the closure of the present regular session of the Fono.

The governor included in his nomination letter, the “written concurrence” of the board on Stevenson’s nomination — a document required for submission to the Senate.

During her Senate confirmation hearing in March 2009 as DHSS director, then Sen. Utu Abe Malae, a former DBAS president, advised her to be “patient” on the job and suggested that she “avoid playing politics” at all times and base her decisions on the merit system to make right and honest decisions that will benefit the territory as a whole.

Utu also urged Stevenson to ensure that DHSS remain in “compliance” at all times and there should never be “non-compliance” when it comes to federal dollars. Don’t let the feds wait for a long time to receive the required financial reports, he said.

Stevenson received a unanimous confirmation vote as DHSS director from the Senate and House.

BACKGROUND

Stevenson, in the position of DHSS director would leave her post at the end of Togiola’s current term as will all current cabinet members.

The DBAS Bank President is not an executive cabinet member, although the president does attend cabinet meetings, but is not required to resign when a new administration takes office.

Samoa News notes that when DBAS president Lolo L.M. Moliga tendered his resignation in a May 23, 2012 letter to DBAS board chairman Malemo L. Tausaga, effective June 30, to pursue his gubernatorial candidacy.  He recommended in his letter of resignation Jason Betham as the new DBAS president “given his many years in the vice presidency position and demonstration of competence to warrant your trust” and “he’s accumulated leadership and managerial skills that would guarantee his effectiveness as a leader.”

Samoa News understands Betham has been Acting DBAS president since Lolo’s resignation.

Copies of Lolo’s letter were sent to the governor, board members, Betham, Galeai, and DBAS staff.



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