Jodina Attao is now the interim chief executive officer of the Northern Marianas Technical Institute.
Five of the six-member NMTI board of trustees voted yes for Attao to take on the position of interim CEO at the board’s special meeting last Saturday at NMTI’s facility in Lower Base. Attao went up against NMTI’s former CEO Agnes McPheters, who received one vote for her to remain in the position. The board cast their votes in public but wrote them on pieces of paper, so it was not learned who voted for whom; only the result was announced.
In an interview with Attao, she said her immediate goal is to first sit with the board and to discuss what they—including herself—want to accomplish in the next few years.
“I know for the first two years, it’s going to be…[about] just trying to build our foundation as an organization, then move on to ensure that all the classes that were supposed to be available are available to the people that are interested in taking trades and technical apprenticeship,” said Attao.
NMTI currently has courses in adult high school, automotive technology, construction trades, power generation, culinary arts, and hotel and restaurant. It was not immediately learned what other courses aren’t available for students at this time.
As interim CEO, Attao sees trades education as important for the CNMI. “We need to build skills in construction. …We need more nurses, physical therapist technicians, [and] those are all things that NMTI can provide in the future, should we move forward with all the plans that are supposed to be set in place,” she said.
Attao received supportive comments during the public comments portion of Friday’s meeting from Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Rep. Sheila Babauta (D-Saipan), Division of Revenue and Taxation director Tracy Norita, Board of Education member Maisie B. Tenorio, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief operation officer Subroto Banerji, CHCC Quality and Performance Management manager Halina Palacios, and colleague Charlene Masiwemai. All agreed that Attao is a leader who sees the “bigger picture” and is always looking for ways to transform the community.
According to Norita, Attao has created important relationships across all government agencies that will help her “add value to NMTI.”
According to Tenorio, Attao has the mindset of a leader in uncertain times in which she not only knows how to survives but thrives. “In Ms. Attao, NMTI would have the leader that can identify strengths in her team and motivate them to achieve their highest potential,” said Tenorio.
For his part, Torres said he fully supports Attao as interim CEO.
Before NMTI, Attao was a quality improvement specialist at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau under CHCC. She has a bachelor’s degree in Education from the Northern Marianas College and a master’s degree in Education from Framingham State University. She is a former Language Arts teacher at Kagman High School.