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Three American Samoan educators selected for leadership program

Executive Leadership Development Program logo
Source: ELDP website

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Executive Leadership Development Program Class of 2021 held its Kick-Off Session with a virtual meeting on September 4, 2020. Participants got to meet each other, their instructors, and their support team for the first time. They also received a high-level overview of the year’s activities and their assignments for their next meeting.

This year American Samoa has three emerging leaders selected to participate:  Jasper Ali’itaeao Tuiasosopo, Marcella Fitisone, and Mikaela Saelua

They will join the other 28 men and women from throughout the Pacific and Caribbean Insular Areas to develop management and leadership skills.


Mr. Tuiasosopo from Fitiuta, Tau, Manu’a currently serves as an Education Assessment Specialist for the American Samoa Department of Education. He is responsible for identifying and responding to student assessment needs, recommending and implementing student assessment policies and procedures, providing national and institutional testing information to the university community, and updating and maintaining local student assessment programs. In addition, he manages and participates in the development and administration of the student assessment services budget.

Prior to working as an Education Assessment Specialist, he served as an educator for ten years. He was an elementary school teacher for eight years on Tutuila and Ta'u. During this time, he served as chairman of multiple content area committees and provided technical assistance to the school administration. He spent his last two years of teaching as an Instructor of the Adult Education Literacy Extended Learning program at the American Samoa Community College. Jasper firmly believes in the power of education and is committed to improving the education system for current and future generations of American Samoa.

 He holds an Associate of Arts degree from the American Samoa Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Hawaii and a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University.


Ms. Fitisone is currently an educator at Tafuna High School. In this capacity, she is responsible for educating, supporting, and stimulating the minds of 120 high school students. Marcella is responsible for planning and preparing rigorous lessons for her students. She is dedicated to creating an inclusive learning environment and incorporating a culturally responsive curriculum to meet the needs of all her students.

 In addition to her classroom duties, she is the co-chairperson of the Lumana'i Manuia Chapter of the National Honor Society. She also serves as the secretary for the WASC Accreditation Focus Group on Curriculum and Instruction. Marcella offers after-school SAT and ACT tutorials for juniors and seniors along with volunteering as an teacher for the Intervention program supporting underachieving students.

Prior to her current role, Marcella worked as a recycling specialist, a Teacher's Assistant for EDS and WGS college courses, an Office Associate at the Berea College Women's and Gender Studies Department, and a summer school teacher. She is passionate about the environment, culture and transformation through education and leadership. Her goal is to create a center for transformative learning for women and children in American Samoa. This center would embody a culturally responsive curriculum for leadership and empowerment. In her spare time, she enjoys photography and spending time in her grandmother's garden.

Marcella graduated in 2017 from Berea College in Kentucky with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Women's and Gender Studies and Education studies. In June 2020, she completed her Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Louisiana State University.


Ms. Saelua currently works as an English Language Arts (ELA) teacher at Leone High School where she serves as the ELA Department Head. In addition to in-class instruction, she is an advisor for her school's Junior State of America Organization, an organization dedicated to building leadership and civic engagement in students. Ms. Saelua is also the Co-chair for the LHS accreditation committee, where she works with faculty, administrators, parents, students, staff, and alumni to gather data and ensure the school meets accreditation requirements of the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC).

Mikaela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with an Asian American Studies minor, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is an avid reader, specifically of non-fiction/self-help books, as they offer her new perspectives on life.

Ms. Saelua is the youngest child of Fiu Johnny Saelua and Catherine Dora Saelua.


The 2020 - 2021 ELDP program will comprise four week-long classroom sessions, with the first two meeting virtually. The program will also incorporate a series of developmental and career enhancement assignments designed to develop public service values and leadership skills in management, finance, policy advocacy, and government operations.

With six graduating classes, the U.S. Insular Areas now count 149 ELDP alumni representing virtually every government agency, serving as dedicated public servants, directors, ambassadors, elected representatives, judges, and cabinet members.

Commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs in 2008, the ELDP was designed to assist the insular governments with developing and retaining qualified and talented professionals needed to lead their governments into the future. Today, the ELDP continues to serve as the premier leadership development program for government employees in key positions throughout the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The ELDP is administered by the Graduate School USA’s Pacific and Virgin Islands Training Initiatives (PITI-VITI), and funded through the United States Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program.