Northern Marianas Housing Corp. deputy corporate director Zenie Mafnas was confirmed as a member of the Northern Marianas College Board of Regents during an emergency Senate hearing last Dec. 2.
Mafnas was approved by the Senate to take over Frank Rabauliman’s place as one of the regents of the CNMI’s lone community college.
“Once I join the Board of Regents, I am going to have to look at the different programs more closely. Right now, I did my basic research and from there, I can gather the status of how it is now,” she said.
During the public comments section of the hearing, numerous NMC staff were vouched their support for Mafnas, who is a former NMC adjunct instructor and student.
Pastor Ray Kinsella, senior pastor of Mafnas’ high school, Grace Christian Academy, was also present at the hearing.
“One thing I will say, she is a person of integrity. She is one who embraces and adheres to Christian values. She loves the people of the CNMI and is committed to seeing the CNMI grow and prosper,” said Kinsella.
Reps. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan) and Blas Jonathan Attao (Ind-Saipan) and former representative and now Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance chair Oscar Babauta were also present at the hearing.
“I’ve known [Mafnas] for seven years. Her educational background and her leadership skills in her present position as deputy director of NMHC is a testament to her ability to serve as a regent,” said Sablan.
Babauta also praised Mafnas in the vernacular.
Senate Executive Appointments & Government Investigations committee member Sen. Arnold Palacios (R-Saipan) said there’s no question about Mafnas’ ability to perform. “It is very clear that [Mafnas] is certainly very qualified for this position,” said Palacios.
“I know that she is a very hardworking individual, very focused. In effect, I don’t really have questions of her ability. I want to congratulate her for being nominated by the governor and the lieutenant governor.”
Senate EAGI committee member Teresita Santos (R-Rota) agreed with Palacios.
“A review of your résumé speaks volumes of your educational background, with very consistent and strong emphasis in the field of accounting,” said Santos.
“Your oral testimony confirms what is written in your résumé; in fact, your oral testimony further strengthen your goal and objectives for our campuses on Saipan, Rota, and Tinian. Having said all these, we trust that you can make a positive impact at NMC for the best interest of our students and our community alike,” added Santos
Senate EAGI committee vice chair Justo Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) was happy that Mafnas returned to Saipan after gaining her master’s degree at the Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“I have no questions or comments on your credentials,” said Quitugua. “I am really glad that after all these years of sacrifices to obtain credentials, you [Mafnas] decided to come home and see what you can do to serve our people, and I am so grateful for that.”
Quitugua, who also cited the nominating committee at NMC for nominating Mafnas, suggested that NMC look into accommodating students from high school that are taking up college courses. Quitugua suggested collaborating with the CNMI Scholarship Office regarding this.
Mafnas herself was honored by the number of supporters who testified for her.
“I am very humbled by their support. I am very appreciative; I am very overwhelmed, I didn’t expect a big number coming. I also want to thank the senators for doing this expeditiously but also by complying with the Office of the Attorney General’s requirements. I’m excited to work with NMC, if confirmed,” she said.
Mafnas was chosen by NMC’s regent nominating committee, which was then passed on to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for appointment along with other candidates before being approved by the Senate.