Governor Arnold Palacios and Lt. Governor David Apatang Wednesday afternoon announced the majority of their new cabinet. Here are the appointments, along with some of their faces, and short biographies sent to the media by the Office of the Governor:
Tina Sablan: Governor’s Senior Policy Advisor
Christina Sablan serves as the Governor’s Senior Policy Advisor, working closely with the Governor, the Legislature, department and agency heads, the U.S. congressional office, other federal government partners, and other stakeholders to advance the Governor’s policy agenda. Prior to accepting this appointment, Sablan was a three-term lawmaker in the CNMI House of Representatives, serving most recently as Chair of the Health and Welfare Committee. She has also previously worked as a congressional staffer in both Washington, DC and the Marianas district office, overseeing the U.S. Delegate’s outreach and communications programs in the Marianas and serving as the congressional office’s liaison with FEMA, the CNMI government, and typhoon survivors following three major typhoon disasters between 2015 and 2018. She recently completed a term serving on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee, advising the USEPA Administrator on policies affecting the territories. Sablan holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning (University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2016).
Tracy B. Norita: Secretary of Finance
Mrs. Norita is a graduate of Washington State University with a Bachelors in Business Administration, majoring in Management Operations. She joined the CNMI government in 2014 as a Technical Financial Analyst under the Office of Management and Budget. In that capacity she also joined the Governor’s Single Audit Committee as the Single Audit Coordinator. Mrs. Norita served as the Director of the Division of Revenue & Taxation under the Department of Finance since 2019 and is an alumnus of the 2017 Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP), commissioned by the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, Pacific Islands Training Initiative. The ELDP serves as the premier leadership development program for government employees throughout the U.S. affiliated Pacific Islands to lead insular governments into the future.
Ray Yumul: Secretary of Public Works
Worked as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Imperial Pacific International. He has also held the title of President and General Manager of YCO Corporation comprising 2 hardware and soft goods retail stores, property and commercial rentals and leasing, and a construction division. He had also held titles as the special advisor to former Lt. Governor Victor B. Hocog and the 21st CNMI Senate. Mr. Yumul had also served as a Senator representing Senatorial District #3 and was a 4-term representative representing Precinct #3.
Leila Staffler: Secretary of Labor
Leila Staffler began her career in the CNMI education system. She was a teacher for 10 years, and an administrator for 10 years, all throughout working to prepare the CNMI youth for the end game of joining the workforce. Now she will work with them on the other side of that system and continue the critical work that is the foundation of our economy: workforce development. Her experience as a legislator and an administrator are excellent foundations for the work that needs to be done to address the CNMI workforce’s needs.
Sylvan Igisomar: Secretary of Lands and Natural Resources
Mr. Sylvan O. Igisomar brings 20+ years of public service experience in natural resources and emergency management. More than eight of those years were in leadership positions at both the local and federal level as the Director of the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife and as the Program Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. Sylvan possesses an AA in Liberal Arts from the Northern Marianas College, a BS in Natural Resource Management from Colorado State University, and a Master of Public Administration from Grand Canyon University. Igisomar is a son of the CNMI and is passionate about natural resource management and advancing the CNMI’s issues forward advantageously. He is the proud husband to Christine Torres Igisomar, an active-duty Lieutenant Commander in the United States Coast Guard, and dedicated father of their two sons, Landon and Christian, who are currently stationed on Guam.
Anthony Torres: Commissioner of Corrections
Anthony C. Torres was born in Saipan. He began his law enforcement career in 1999 as an Adult Correctional Officer for the Department of Public Safety at Halawa Prison in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 2002, Anthony showcased his skills and advanced his career as a Correctional Officer for the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons at Federal Detention Center Honolulu. His outstanding performance was recognized by the institution and his efforts earned him a position of increased responsibility as a Systems Specialist acting in multiple managerial roles. In 2015, he was promoted to a Treatment Specialist in the Challenge Program at United States Penitentiary Tucson, a high-security federal prison in Arizona. In 2018, he was assigned to Federal Correctional Institution Tucson, a medium-security facility designated “drop-out yard” housing former gang members, cartels, law enforcement officers and politicians as a Drug Treatment Specialist working in the Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program. Anthony dedicated himself to improving the complex and participated in many collateral duties and leadership roles to include Arizona Special Operations Response Team Member, Discipline Hearing Officer, Hispanic Program Manager and Lead Self-Defense Instructor. He has an educational background in Criminal Justice from Chaminade University in Honolulu. Anthony is also a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and was the first Chamorro to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Virginia Villagomez: Special Assistant for Management and Budget
By appointment, I serve as the Special Assistant for the Office of Management and Budget responsible for the formulation of the CNMI Government’s budget and its execution upon enactment, including other programs and policy development consistent with the goals of the Administration’s fiscal and economic priorities. I am humbled by this appointment to serve our Commonwealth at a
time when our government is fiscally challenged. I thank Governor Palacios and Lieutenant Governor Apatang for recognizing the value and years of service and the institutional knowledge I can contribute to this Administration. I am ready to serve the Commonwealth at the highest level entrusted to me demonstrating trust and transparency in my term of appointment.
Daniel Aquino: Special Assistant for the Commonwealth Bureau of Military Affairs (CBMA)
Daniel I. Aquino is the new Special Assistant for the Commonwealth Bureau of Military Affairs (CBMA). He served as the Executive Director for the NMI Museum of History and Culture for the past 5 years and was honored by U.S. Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan with a U.S. Congressional Tribute for his hard work in repairing and restoring the CNMI’s museum. He graduated from the University of Guam with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management. He also completed
ARMY Officers Engineering School and is a U.S. Veteran. Daniel is pro-military and will work hard to build the bridge that fosters an improved and mutually-beneficial relationship between the CNMI government and the various military components.
Delbert Pua: Special Assistant, Youth Affairs
Before being appointed as the Special Assistant to the Youth Affairs Office, I was employed under the Department of Land & Natural Resources- Division of Fish & Wildlife enforcement as Conservation Inspector I.
My vision for the Youth Affairs Office is to reach out to our government entities that share the same common goals to rehabilitate our youth of the CNMI by implementing programs and developing a comprehensive approach for our youth’s full potential of skills, leadership ability, and to be an abiding citizen of our great Commonwealth. Our communities, leaders, and other non-profit organizations can help one another, along with our office of Youth Affairs, to charter and assist our youth today and to fully prepare them for future challenges ahead and for future generations to come.
Felix Nogis: Executive Assistant, Carolinian Affairs
- Served as an Administrative Officer under the Public School System.
- Elected Delegate to the III CNMI Constitutional Convention.
- Appointed Executive Director to the Job Training Partnership Act and the Workforce Investment Agency.
- Served as a Board member to the American Red Cross.
- Member of the Humanities Council.
- Presently the President of Refaluwasch for Good Governance (RGG), which is a non-profit organization.
Paul Tenorio: Executive Director, Criminal Justice Planning Agency
The Criminal Justice Planning Agency office was created to function as the staff of the Northern Marianas Council for the Improvement of the Criminal Justice System, also known as the “Supervisory Council” the Supervisory Council was established through Executive Order #16 for the sole purpose for “improvement of the Criminal Justice System” in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Criminal Justice Planning Agency also serves as the State Administering Agency (SAA) for the U.S. Department of Justice Grant Programs for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands under the jurisdiction of the Governor.