Hilda Heine, President of the Marshall Island (since Jan 28, 2016)
Hilda Cathy Heine (born April 6, 1951) is a Marshallese educator and politician, currently serving as the eighth President of the Marshall Islands, the first woman to hold the office. Prior to assuming office, she served as the Minister of Education. She was the first individual on the Marshall Islands to earn a doctorate degree, and the founder of the women’s rights group Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI).
Heine is the first woman to hold the presidency of the Marshall Islands. She is also the first female president of any Micronesian country, and only the third woman to serve as head of government for any independent Pacific Island nation (following Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark of New Zealand). She is one of only three women currently serving in the Nitijeļā, the country’s legislature, as of January 2016.
Heine attended college in the United States where she earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon in 1970. She earned a master’s degree at the University of Hawaii in 1975, and an educational doctorate at the University of Southern California in 2004.
Heine worked at Marshall Islands High School in Majuro from 1975 through 1982, serving both as a classroom teacher and as a counselor. In 2000, Heine founded Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI), a women’s rights group. Since 2005, she had been Pacific Resources for Education and Learning’s (PREL) Director at the Pacific Comprehensive Assistance Center.
Heine became a learning scientist in 2009 with the Pacific Islands Climate Change Education Partnership. She has also been associated with the Leadership Pacific Advisory Board, the Commission on Education in Micronesia, and the Human Resources in Health Task Force.
Representing Aur Atoll in the Nitijeļā (Legislature), she became Minister of Education.
On January 27, 2016, Heine was elected President of the Marshall Islands. As sole candidate she received 24 votes with six abstaining and three absent from the 33 members of the Nitijeļā. Heine was sworn into office on January 28, 2016. She succeeded Casten Nemra who was ousted by a no-confidence motion just one week after his inauguration.
Christopher Loeak, Former President of the Marshall Island (since Jan 3, 2012)
Christopher Loeak (born 11 November 1952) is the current president of the Marshall Islands. He was elected by parliament following the Marshall Islands presidential election, 2012.
Loeak was born on the Ailinglaplap Atoll on 11 November 1952. He attended Marshall Island High School before traveling to the United States to study at the Hawaii Pacific College and Gonzaga University School of Law. Loeak is a native speaker of Marshallese and also speaks English. He is married to Anono Lieom Loeak and has three children and eight grandchildren.
Loeak was first elected to the Nitijela in 1985 when he represented the Ailinglaplap Atoll. He served in the cabinet of President Amata Kabua as Minister of Justice from 1988 to 1992. He became Minister of Social Services in 1992 and held that post until 1996 when Kunio Lemari became acting president on the death of Kabua and Loeak became Minister of Education. He held the education portfolio for two years, continuing his cabinet work under President Imata Kabua who was sworn in in 1997. Kabua made him Minister for the Ralik Chain of islands in 1998, holding that position for a year and also undertaking an additional portfolio as Minister-in-Assistance to the President in 1999.
During his time in the Nitijela Loeak took an active part in many of its committees including those for the Judiciary and Government Relations; Public Account, Health and Education and Social Services (which he chaired); Foreign Affairs and Trade; Appropriation; Resource and Development; International Protection, Peace, Security and Protection of the Environment. He was also a member of the Second and Third Constitutional Conventions, serving as vice-president of the latter, and chaired the Bill of Rights Committee. Loeak was part of the team that negotiated the extension of the United States lease of the Marshallese part of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site after an eight year deadlock on talks. The Marshall Islands government agreed to accept payment of $32 million in return for extending the lease on the site.
Loeak was re-elected to the Nitijela in 2007 and has held the seat of Ailinglaplap since then. He re-entered the cabinet in 2008 as Minister-in-Assistance to President Litokwa Tomeing.
Loeak became president of the Marshall Islands in January 2012 when the Nitijela elected him to that post. Loeak defeated incumbent president Jurelang Zedkaia by 21 votes to 11. Zedkaia has agreed to co-operate with the new administration and Loeak is expected to name his cabinet and be officially sworn in within a week.
Litokwa Tomeing, Former President of the Marshall Island
President Iroij Litokwa Tomeing was born on October 14, 1939 on Wotje Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. As a young child, Tomeing attended Catholic Elementary School in Likiep and Jaluit, respectively, from 1950-1954. He went on to attend Intermediate School in Majuro from 1954-1957.
Tomeing went on to PIC High School in Pohnpei, graduating successfully in 1961. From 1970-1972, Tomeing undertook University of Hawaii extension studies.
Mr. Tomeing first entered the public service of the Marshall Islands in 1961 as Principal/Teacher at Ebon Elementary School and remained there until 1964. He left Ebon for Majuro and continued in his teaching profession at Rita Elementary School from 1965-1968.
He first entered local politics when he ran and successfully attained the mayoral seat for Wotje Atoll, serving as Mayor for Wotje from 1965-1969, a role which he once held simultaneously with his teaching post at Wotje Elementary School from 1968-1973.
Mr. Tomeing returned to Majuro in 1974 and took up the position of Media and Curriculum Specialist at Marshall Islands High School.
Mr. Tomeing entered big time politics when he entered the Nitijela (national parliament) race and successfully won the seat for Ebon, Namdrik, Kili, and Jaluit atolls, retaining that seat from 1974-1978.
In 1976, he was appointed as one of the Marshall Islands’ delegates to the Federated States of Micronesia Constitutional Convention in Saipan, Mariana Islands.
Two years later in 1978, he was also selected as delegate and member at large to the Marshall Islands Constitutional Convention held in Majuro.
Shortly following the country’s full independence as a sovereign nation and separation from the Federated States of Micronesia, he became one of the 33 members of the Marshall Islands’ Nitijela in 1979 to the present day.
He became Vice Speaker of the Nitijela from 1992 to 1995, and then member of the Cabinet as Minister in Assistance to the President with direct supervisory role over the Ratak chain of islands in the Republic from 1996-1998.
Mr. Tomeing became Speaker of the Nitijela in 2000 until his election to the presidency on January 2008.
His hobbies include fishing, home gardening, and travelling.
Mr. Tomeing is married to Arlin Tomeing and they have seven children and a handful of grandchildren.
Kessai Hesa Note, Former President of Marshall Islands
Kessai Hesa Note (born August 7, 1950 in Ailinglaplap) is the president of the Marshall Islands. He was elected in 2000 by Parliament. He is a member of the United Democratic Party. He was reelected by parliament in January 2004, receiving 20 votes, while Justin deBrum received 9.