MVA’s Concepcion resigns

Christopher Attao Concepcion

Christopher Attao Concepcion turned in his resignation yesterday as managing director of the Marianas Visitors Authority. There is no immediate word on who will replace him.

“It’s been a fun ride. I want to thank you guys for everything,” Concepcion said, after telling the MVA board of directors about his resignation at the latter part of the meeting.

Concepcion is required to provide a 30-day notice; his resignation will be effective April 12.

He became the managing director in April 2016.

After announcing his resignation, Concepcion then asked the board to allow him to discuss more details about his decision in an executive session—essentially a closed-door meeting that is off-limits to the media and the public.

When the meeting resumed after the brief executive session, MVA board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce announced that they were shocked but have reluctantly accepted Concepcion’s resignation.

Aldan-Pierce and the other board members—Jerry Tan, Cinta Kaipat, Gloria Cavanagh, Chris Nelson, Agida Quitugua, Nick Nishikawa, and Warren Villagomez—along with some MVA staff gave Concepcion a standing ovation.

Concepcion told the board that he leaves the agency with great sadness but “I want to thank you all for the opportunity to serve the MVA and the people of the Commonwealth the past three years.”

Concepcion said that he and his team managed to achieve major milestones during his tenure, chief of which when they finally secured direct air service from Japan via Skymark Airlines.

He said Skymark is the first Japanese carrier to operate flights to Saipan since Japan Airlines withdrew from the market in 2005.

“It was through my personal relations with airline industry executives in Japan, and direct negotiations with Skymark executives, that we were finally able to convince Japan’s third largest carrier to launch flights to the CNMI,” he said.

Concepcion reiterated his appreciation to the board and especially to the MVA’s “hardworking team.”

“It’s been a fun ride. But I think it’s time. I’m tired,” he added.

The smiling Concepcion said everybody has noticed that he has grown more gray hairs with his job and that he agrees with the observation.

“But it’s been well worth it. I just want to thank you guys for everything,” he said.

Aldan-Pierce said they’re flabbergasted by Concepcion’s decision, but basically understand him, and that the board has always been supportive of his new ideas.

“We thank you, wholeheartedly. We wish you good luck,” Aldan-Pierce said. “We thank you for your professionalism.”

In a later interview, Concepcion still sees a lot of improvements that could be made at MVA, a lot of new things, and even enhanced projects and events.

“I think, overall, we’re in good hands. I’m not sure who my successor will be. But whoever it is, I offer my full support and assistance to make sure that things will be smooth during the transition,” he said.

Concepcion did not disclose whether he is getting a new government position or if he is going back to the private sector. He used to be with Delta Air Lines.

With the 30-day notice, Concepcion will still be with the MVA until mid-April.

Aldan-Pierce said Concepcion will still be around to assist with the transition to the new MVA chief and to help at the agency because they have so many pending projects and that they need his expertise.

She said Concepcion is resigning because he needs to move forward with his life and that they discussed it during the executive session.

“When you work for MVA, it’s a very demanding job,” she said, adding that it’s a 24-7 job.

When asked about who will succeed Concepcion, Aldan-Pierce said the replacement is the purview of the board of directors. “As names come up, the board will sit down and discuss,” she said.

Aldan-Pierce described Concepcion as a “very wonderful managing director” who has moved forward different programs and come up with so many new ones.

She said the thing that she likes about Concepcion is he came from the private sector, where he has earned the respect of the tourism industry.

“He has been the consummate professional for the board, on behalf of the authority,” she said, adding that the board never had to worry about what’s going on at the MVA ever day, because they had full confidence in Concepcion’s ability.

Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Christopher Attao Concepcion, third from left in the back, joins MVA board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce, fifth from left in front, and other board members in a group photo outside MVA office in San Jose/Oleai yesterday. Concepcion announced his resignation during the board meeting. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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