“FA’AFETAI AND FAREWELL”
I want to take this time to give honor and gratitude to Almighty God for the blessed opportunity I have had to serve the people of American Samoa in the American Samoa Government.
I am most grateful to Honorable Governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono for his strong leadership, support and confidence in me in serving as the Director for the Department of Human Resources and as the Authorized Representative on disaster response and recovery operations. I also thank First Lady Mary Ann Tulafono for her duties in caring for the First Family and determination in making a difference in the lives of our young people.
The past 4 years have been one of the most rewarding periods of my life and I recognize that this would not have been possible without the support and teamwork provided to me by Honorable Governor and my fellow Cabinet members, Honorable President of the Senate Gaoteote Palaie Tofau & Speaker of the House Savali Talavou Ale and the distinguished members of the Fono, Chief Justice Michael Kruse and the Legislative Branch, and especially the employees of the Department of Human Resources and the Territorial Office of Fiscal Reform (TOFR)/American Samoa Disaster Recovery Office (ASDRO).
There are so many unsung heroes embedded in these two departments who remain invisible to the public, but work tirelessly and without complaining to serve our government and territory. Many of these employees are future leaders and if given the right opportunity, will make a positive impact in service to our people.
There are also special individuals in the federal government that have provided timely support to the positive outcomes of DHR and ASDRO projects. I thank Honorable Congressman Eni Faleomavaega Hunkin for his continued dedication to our people and collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor that enabled the provision of the American Samoa National Emergency Grant program. Thru this ASNEG program and support of our federal regional office with Division Chief for Region VI, Mrs. Rosemary Cowan and our Federal Project Officer, Mr. John Jacobs, they have provided support to ASNEG Program Manager, Mr. Tuimavave Tauapai Laupola, his superb staff and our multiple service providers, in guiding us thru innovative strategies that have pioneered the path for viable training and employment programs that will survive because they are built on models for self-sustainment thru public/private partnerships.
I’d also like to acknowledge the outstanding support from the University of Hawaii Pacific Center Business Center with Dr. Papalii Failautusi Avegalio and Dr. Tuifagalele Clarence Cheshire who have assisted in the disaster projects with technical expertise and focused emphasis on regional initiatives for workforce and economic development, that are launched from within the territory but impact across the Pacific basin.
I am also grateful to Regional Administrator Mrs. Nancy Ward, FEMA Region IX and her entire regional staff and the Pacific Area Office under the leadership of Ms. Colby Stanton; their efforts and service to American Samoa have resulted in the right help at the right time towards the right needs. Thru their work with the TOFR/ASDRO agency, under the leadership of Director Falemao “Phil” Pili, they have successfully closed out disaster projects from 3 previous disasters this year, thus allowing them to focus on the few remaining projects from the earthquake-tsunami in 2009.
Under Director Pili’s leadership exists a most efficient and hard-working group of individuals at the TOFR office, many who came from the ASNEG program; to them I am grateful for their professionalism and consistent drive to execute the disaster projects with absolute compliance.
I thank Mrs. Lydia Faleafine-Nomura with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs for her support with the disaster grants initiatives and projects with the Tsunami Advisory Council on the Post-Tsunami Study and Final Report. The efforts with this study were made possible from the disaster assistance provided by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District with Ms. Athline Clark and Mr. Thomas Fee of Helbert, Hastert & Fee, Honolulu, HI. Thru their work, they provided an award-winning implementation plan for building natural hazard resilience to disaster events that was guided with input from the local and federal government, non-government organizations, local business sector, faith-based organizations and the community at large.
I appreciate the private sector businesses, the non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations and government authorities and departments who have been supportive of our DHR Workforce Investment Act (WIA) On the Job Training, Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), Skill + Opportunities=Success (SOS) and Work Experience Internship programs.
I thank the American Samoa Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (ASVOAD) for your support with the disaster projects and to the Samoa Bowl organization for allowing us to partner with you. Your roles are vital to the community and to our government’s operations and I hope thru continued public/private partnerships, this will help bridge a stronger future for our children and prospective generations.
At this time of the year, I always looked forward to my department’s end of the year Christmas Ball; we started a tradition with inviting all of the previous DHR Directors to our annual event, and I had the utmost pleasure of meeting the late Director Malu Mageo at our 2009 Christmas Ball before he passed the following year.
The tradition of honoring our former leaders is significant as it is their wisdom and hard work that have provided the seeds for greater growth. I was blessed to also know the late Mrs. Adele Satele Galei, a former DHR Director and had always admired her personal accomplishments and her achievements in public service. I am unable to join my department this year for our Christmas Ball and regrettably am not able to properly say my farewells to them in person as I am currently on military orders in the U.S mainland.
I would like to thank Deputy Director Ulugaono Waldie Allen for his dedication and commitment to our department mission; he led the department with ease and confidence during my absence for government activities and especially during the disaster recovery operations. I am grateful to my Division Chiefs — Administration & Finance- Mrs. Lili Ho-Ching, Employment & Training-Ms. Makerita Enesi, Human Capital & Strategic Planning- Mrs. Eseneiaso Liu, Personnel- Mr. Max Tuitele, Workmen’s Compensation- Mrs. Papali’i Violet Richmond and former Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance Officer- now Associate Judge Muasau Tofili. Their performance and dedication to the department’s 70+ employees have enabled us to provide ideal public service to the territory and government workforce for personnel and employment activities; at times we fell short of our mission, but I believe the outcomes were met and our operations were strengthened even more.
I thank Legal Counsel Joe Everett for his outstanding performance as Counsel for DHR and working in concert with the Office of the Attorney General’s Civil Division and I am forever grateful to Mrs. Eseta I’amanu and Mrs. Nancy Kupa for providing me with exceptional executive support; their exemplary performance as government employees is worthy of emulation and has taught me many things in my service to our territory.
Lastly I’d like to thank the Office of Public Information, the Department of Information Technology, and the news and media organizations for striving to report factual information from my department. I appreciate your efforts and the service you provide to the territory, our brothers and sisters who live abroad and especially our Toa Samoa who remain in service to our nation.
As the changing of the guard approaches, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Governor Elect Lolo Moliga and Lieutenant Governor Elect Lemanu Mauga and their families. With trust in God’s grace for our newly elected government leaders I am confident they will build upon the successes of their predecessors. As they work together with the spiritual, cultural and business leaders of our territory, they will need our prayers and support in the spirit of “E Muamua le Atua” for all things. May God Bless American Samoa and the United States of America with his loving grace during this Christmas season and best wishes for a prosperous New Year.
Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford
Director- Department of Human Resources