Call from the Governor’s Office: Part 2


I attended the governor’s Cabinet meeting last Friday afternoon, leaving me both humbled and invigorated about the general task at hand. “If ever there was a time for it, now is the time for you to start working for your community and with each other,” the governor told all of us. “Do whatever you can to help each other. We cannot afford to work in silos anymore.” I had never attended a Cabinet meeting before, so I walked in with no frame of reference as to what I should expect and I walked away with this very clear and poignant message that truthfully was music to my ears—I walked away inspired, if you will. Given the awesome responsibility entrusted upon each of us, it is nice to know that there is a core group of people we can lean on as needed.

Later that evening I would spend part of my “happy hour” trying to convince my brothers and a few of our closest friends that I am an “important” person now (because I get to sit in on the governor’s Cabinet meetings) and that they should start being nicer to me. My oldest brother responded first with a drawn out, “Shuuud up and get me a beer!” Someone else chimed in with, “Yeah. Get us all one! Hurry up!” Apparently (and rightfully so) they aren’t impressed with my newfound title and already know what all of us should know—that titles (in and of themselves) do not determine the importance of a person regardless of how hard one may try to flaunt it. What matters most is how a person conducts himself, what he does with the inherent authority of his respective office and whether or not he accomplishes the respective mission of said office. Most of us know far too well the disaster that comes with a big head (or ego) and a title. Far too often we see people get into positions of authority where they can’t see past themselves and completely lose sight of why they have a title in the first place.

Coincidentally, the governor echoed this same sentiment at aforementioned meeting. “Titles are not what we’re about. Your titles don’t mean anything unless you’re doing good for your community and for the people who work with you,” he said. “Every individual should be treated with respect.” I couldn’t have agreed more.

As for the task at the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, we have an existing State Plan that lays out a roadmap to achieve OVR’s mission, which is to increase employment and promote independence for eligible individuals with disabilities residing in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. As part of that plan OVR, in collaboration with the State Rehabilitation Council, has established priorities and goals aligned with requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act otherwise known as WIOA. More specifically, the priorities and goals are outlined as follows:

Priority 1: Transition and Pre-Employment Transition Services (PreETS) – Implement pre-employment transition services through the realignment of staff and service delivery methods; and expand/improve the CNMI’s service delivery infrastructure and the program’s capacity for making available PreETS to students with disabilities in need of such services.

Priority 2: Business/Employer Engagement – Increase partnerships with local businesses to develop or expand work experiences through on-the-job and work experience training, internship/ apprenticeship, and employment opportunities for qualified adults and youth with disabilities; and develop systems capacity, knowledge and skills to effectively meet the needs of businesses/employers.

Priority 3: Competitive Integrated Employment – Increase competitive integrated employment opportunities, supports and outcomes for adults and youth with disabilities, particularly those with the most significant disabilities.

Priority 4: Agency Performance – Improve overall Agency performance

“Under WIOA, the governor of each state must submit a Unified or Combined State Plan to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor that outlines a four-year strategy for the state’s workforce development system. The publicly-funded workforce development system is a national network of federal, state, regional, and local agencies and organizations that provide a range of employment, education, training, and related services and supports to help all job-seekers secure good jobs while providing businesses with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.”

As with our government in general, the implementation of the Unified State Plan requires the collective effort of various groups, agencies and other community partners which gets back to my first Cabinet meeting.

I still can’t reconcile how or why my name got pulled from what I suspect was a large pool of highly-capable and well-qualified people to join in this new administration’s mission, but the truth is that I really don’t need to know. All that I and the rest of us who were called upon to help should be concerned with are what our jobs entail and what we need to do in order to accomplish our respective missions in the best way possible.

As for being an important person now—NO!—I do not for one second think so highly of myself nor do I have enough hubris in me to ever believe such a thing. That is a running joke among many of those closest to me. However, while I personally may not be, the work that we are asked to do and the respective offices we are entrusted to hold are very important—important for the people we serve, important for the people we work with and most of all important for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. I, for one, am all in. Let’s do this!

James M. Rayphand is the director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and is a former executive director of the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc.


Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.