First Lady Diann Tudela Torres was the keynote speaker at the DDEAM conferences, having worked 11 years with students with special needs at PSS, and having been very active and passionate about the transition of these students into college and the workforce.  The conferences were attended by over 100 employers and job-seekers, and were held at the NMC Rota Campus on March 7th, the NMC Tinian Campus on March 14th, and the Fiesta Resort Saipan on March 21st.

In her keynote address, the First Lady said, “We know that students with disabilities often leave school early, and the few that make it to graduation end up staying at home.  This means that most end up lacking the qualifications and skills needed to be workforce ready; and in higher education there is a persisting gap between students with and without disabilities.  We should leave no one behind, and we should continue to break down the barriers that divide our communities.”

The goal of the conferences was to build capacity on disability awareness with our local employers, as well as to educate job-seekers with disabilities on their rights and responsibilities.  With the theme of “Advancing to Success,” presentations at the conferences included: “Disability Basics” presented by the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at the Northern Marianas College (NMC); “Navigating the DOL/WIA System” presented by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Workforce Investment Agency (WIA); “Assistive Technology and the Workplace” presented by the Assistive Technology Program (ATP) at the CDD, “Dress for Success/Mock Interviews” and “Resume Writing” presented by the Special Education Office at the Public School System (PSS). 

In addition to the informative presentations mentioned above, the conferences also included panel discussions with members of the CNMI DNP on the topic of “Reasonable Accommodations.”  During the conference, certain individuals were acknowledged and presented with certificates of appreciation for their accomplishments in the CNMI’s disability community.  Those in attendance were also given the opportunity to comment on the updates/modifications to the CNMI Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Unified State Plan.  WIOA Core Partners include OVR, WIA, and the Adult Basic Education Program at NMC. 

According to data from the DDEAM Conference Evaluations, over 80% of the employers who attended were satisfied with the effort of the CNMI DNP in helping to increase employers’ knowledge about disabilities employment issues; and 100% of those surveyed said the information presented was very useful.

Other disabilities-related events and activities included a special White Mass for People with Disabilities, Mental Health First Aid Certification Training, and Easter Egg Hunts for children with special needs.



Pam Sablan/Lillian Ada

Council on Developmental Disabilities

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: (670) 664-7003