Department of Homeland Security hosts Executive Education Seminar

March 06, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security hosted an Executive Education Seminar on March 6, 2017 at the Lee Auditorium in Utulei.  The theme of the Seminar was “Tropical Cyclone Disaster Response, Recovery and Resiliency”.  Several FEMA personnel were on island to conduct the Seminar which was attended by Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga, Directors and representatives of respective ASG Departments and Agencies, support staff, members of the private business sector and the media.  The purpose of the Seminar was to provide an opportunity for the senior leadership of American Samoa to discuss roles, responsibilities, key decision and actions in response to a major tropical cyclone or other natural disasters.

The FEMA group was led by Mrs. Colby Stanton, Director of Pacific Area Office - Region IX.  The facilitator of the seminar was Mr. Stan M. McKinney, Director of Education Programs – Center for Homeland Defense and Security.  Sitting on the panel were Mr. Robert Bach, PhD, Mr. John Bilotta, Managing Partner of O’Connor, Bilotta and Associates LLC, Mr. William (Bill) L. Carwile, Consultant – Disaster Response and Recovery/Executive Leadership, Mrs. Mary des Vignes-Kendrick, MD, MPH, FAAP, Director of Health & Human Services – Fort Bend Count TX, Mr. Robert B. Stephan, Executive Director – Gryphon Scientific and Mr. Robert M. (Mike) Walker, Senior Consultant – Center for Homeland Defense and Security.


The Homeland Security Executive Education Seminar opened with remarks by Homeland Security Director Samana S. Ve’ave’a, who greeted the attendees and then called for a blessing by Reverend Ioane Evagelia of CCCAS – Utulei.  Following the invocation, Director Samana introduced Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Palepoi S. Mauga for his special remarks.

Lieutenant Governor Lemanu spoke candidly to the gathering regarding the Executive Education Seminar.  He stressed the importance of keeping an open mind going into the discussions.  He emphasized that the keys to success for an effective emergency response includes preparation, knowledge of available resources and coordination of the local community. He recommended that the Directors include their Deputy Directors in all aspects of their emergency plans in order to promote continuity in the awareness of respective agencies of their duties and responsibilities in case of a disaster and to sustain the knowledge.  Lieutenant Governor Lemanu concluded his comments by instructing the participants to be mindful in their discussions and to share resources for the benefit of the people of American Samoa.


Following the remarks by the Lieutenant Governor, Director Colby Stanton of FEMA Region IX Pacific Area Office provided a short address outlining the objectives of the Seminar.  The Seminar then got underway as facilitated by Mr. Stan McKinney, Director of Education Programs – Center for Homeland Defense and Security.  Mr. McKinney stated that they had conducted over 400 such seminars but this was their first time in American Samoa.  After outlining the day’s agenda, each participant was asked to introduce themselves and indicate the entity they represented.  The Seminar featured participant and panel scenario based discussions to review current systems in place and ways to enhance and improve the response to disasters.   A summary of the key issues was compiled and presented before the seminar adjourned.