The Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc. also known as NMPASI will bid adieu to several members of its board of directors at the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2016.
Founded in 1993, the local non-profit organization is the state-designated agency for protection and advocacy services on behalf of individuals with disabilities. NMPASI relies primarily on federal grant programs to sustain its operations and to pursue its mission “To protect the civil, legal, and human rights of individuals with disabilities.”
While the office, known in part for being the “watchdog” of disability-related services, enjoys at least a small level of notoriety for its aggressive stance in support of the individual rights of people with disabilities—sometimes against our own government and other much larger establishments in the community—its staff acknowledges that none of it could have been possible without the commitment of a “solid” board of directors.
“Behind the scenes of any accomplished non-profit organization is a board of directors made up of individuals sternly committed to its mission,” according to NMPASI executive director James M. Rayphand.
“In our case,” he says, “the board is comprised of 11 people (a majority of who have to be persons with disabilities and/or immediate family members of people with disabilities) who volunteer to, among other things, develop and insure adherence to organizational policies and procedures. Additionally, the board is responsible for ‘recruiting, hiring, evaluating and, if deemed necessary, terminating and removing the executive director in accordance with organizational policies and procedures.”
As for seeking new members, the board itself re-established new term limits for membership to comply with conditions of NMPASI’s grant programs wherein “terms shall be staggered and for four years except for members appointed to fill a vacancy…a member who has been appointed to a term of four years may not be reappointed to the board for a two-year period beginning on the date on which the four-year term expired”.
Presently, the membership terms for six of our current board members are due to expire on Sept. 30, 2016 and members of our executive committee are opting to “cast a wider net” for new members by announcing the vacancies publicly.
“Ultimately, we want to identify board members who believe in our mission and who are willing to volunteer their time in support of that mission,” added Rayphand. “It helps also to have people who won’t back down when confronted with issues that could negatively impact the rights of individuals with disabilities, including but not limited to holding ourselves accountable to prescribed standards for protection and advocacy.”
The current NMPASI board members are: Ellena Sutton (president), Robert T. Torres (vice president), Felicitas “Tee” Abraham (secretary), Rita Cruz (treasurer), John “Pan” Guerrero, Jr., Daniel Ada, Helen Sablan, Augusta Palacios (Tinian member), Raymond Castro (Rota member), and Melrosa Rebuenog (PAIMI Advisory Council member).
For more on NMPASI and/or protection and advocacy services for individuals with disabilities, please contact the NMPASI Office at (670) 235-7273/4 [tel.] /235-7275 [fax/tty] or via the Internet at www.nmpasi.org. (PR)