Assuming the role on Jan. 6 this year, Gregory P. Borja is Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems Inc.’s new executive director.
Borja, who was NMPASI’s program manager before becoming its new chief, said yesterday that his past two week at the helm of NMPASI has been “exciting” and “I’m looking forward to continue moving forward with our staff here and the work that we do.”
Before Borja became executive director, NMPASI was led by long-time executive director James Rayphand.
According to Borja, Rayphand started at NMPASI in 1996 as an advocate, a common starting point for many NMPASI staff. Rayphand worked his way up, became NMPASI’s executive director in 2007, and served in the role for the next 15 years. For NMPASI as a whole, Borja said that Rayphand was a great leader. To him, Rayphand was a great mentor.
“[Rayphand] has provided great leadership in [helping us] move forward in terms of ensuring that we hold to our mission of protecting the civil, legal, and human rights of individuals with disabilities here in the CNMI. He’s been a great mentor to me in terms of learning how to work with our federal programs and the grants that we receive in order to ensure that we…don’t quit service, even in times of typhoon or with the [ongoing COVID-19] pandemic,” said Borja.
“We’ve always kept our doors open, because the population that we serve is a vulnerable population—people with disabilities—and so we want to ensure that there’s no interruption in services for them and what they’re trying to get in order to live free in the community,” Borja added.
As for what he would like to see happen at NMPASI with him as director, Borja said he wants to see NMPASI expand its programs, expand its funding opportunities, and see how NMPASI can continue to serve people with disabilities in the midst of a pandemic.
Borja said that NMPASI currently operates through eight federal grants plus one sub-grant from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. that supports NMPASI’s efforts to help families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
“With the pandemic, there’s a lot of restrictions in terms of access to facilities, so I’d like to see that we are able to continue to get into those facilities to help out people who might need our assistance,” he said.
With him at the helm, Borja would also like to see more outreaches in line with the organization’s mission to have an accessible community for people with mental or physical disabilities in the CNMI.
“The long-run mission of NMPASI is to ensure that we have an accessible community for people with mental or physical disabilities. …We want to make sure we get the…appropriate outreach [out there] so that people know some of the issues that surround the lives of folks with disabilities, because at one time or another, we will all experience a disability. It’s a natural part of the human experience,” said Borja.
According to its official website, NMPASI’s priorities include providing “legally-based advocacy services on behalf of individuals with disabilities and their families in the CNMI; advancing “the understanding of and appreciation for protection & advocacy services and disability-related issues in the CNMI”; and enhancing “the quality of protection & advocacy services and the efficiency of the organization’s operations.”