White House Officials and Pacific Leaders Work to Identify Unique Conditions Facing Islanders

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Mangilao, Guam – Senior Obama Administration officials and Pacific Islander community leaders gathered at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ (WHIAAPI) Community Tour and Regional Conference at Guam Community College last week to address disparities and inequalities to accessing federal programs and services.

The meetings were designed to strengthen an understanding and appreciation of the unique conditions that Pacific Islanders in Micronesia are facing.

WHIAAPI Executive Director Kiran Ahuja, whose office organized the events, said it’s extraordinary to have such a diverse gathering of federal officials, policymakers, and community leaders collaborating to make an impact in the Pacific Island region.

“Pacific Islanders represent very diverse communities and we’re working to ensure the federal government addresses their needs,” said Ahuja, “We’ve made leaps and bounds in progress here at the front lines, connecting community leaders at the local level with federal officials, to provide the tools and teams needed to help emerging communities here grow and contribute to the tremendous growth that has built our country.”

Following last week’s meeting, several federal agencies have set goals to improve relations with Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Officials and experts met with Governor Eddie Calvo at the Adelup Complex and Speaker Judith Won Pat and Vice Speaker BJ Cruz at the Guam Legislature on Wednesday to discuss the issues for local lawmakers. They also held technical assistance and capacity building workshops on health care, affordable housing and employment and training opportunities.

Workgroups spent Thursday at various community centers to discuss services and protections across Guam. Officials and experts discussed social services at the Sanctuary, Inc., which provides youth services. Others discussed homeless and veterans at the Lagu Youth Resource Center, operated by the Guam Department of Youth Affairs; self-determination and migration was the topic at the University of Guam; health disparities were covered at the WestCare Offices, which provides health and human services; and workforce development and economic development were addressed at the Guam Trades Academy.  

For more information about the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, please visit whitehouse.gov/aapi.