Board of Directors

Sheila Babauta Chairwoman & Treasurer

Sheila Babauta

A daughter of the CNMI, Sheila Babauta is passionate about contributing to a brighter Marianas. At the age of 29, she gained the trust and confidence of her community in Precinct 4 and began serving as a member in the 21st CNMI House of Representatives. Sheila continues to serve in the 22nd CNMI Legislature and currently holds key leadership positions as Chairwoman of the Natural and Cultural Resources Committee, Vice-Chairwoman of the Education Committee, and Floor Leader of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation. She believes that responsible management of our natural resources is essential to improving our quality of life in the Marianas and ensuring future generations have access to these resources.

Chairwoman / Treasurer


Franco Santos

Franco Santos was born and raised in Saipan, where he spent a decade working in the tourism industry and acting as a fundraising consultant for several charitable organizations. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Accounting at the Northern Marianas College and participated in the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea for the CNMI Golf Team. He is currently employed at the Saipan Chamber of Commerce as the Financial and Data Management Coordinator and continues to enjoy his time on and in CNMI waters. As a local fisherman in a leadership role for Friends of the Mariana Trench, he finds it important to conserve and protect our oceans, not only for future generations, but also for the livelihoods of all who will benefit.

Vice Chairman

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Ignacio V. "Ike" Cabrera

Born in Saipan and lived in the CNMI his entire life, IKE is a founding member and the Chairman of the Friends of the Mariana Trench since 2009 to present. Before he retired, he was the secretary for Department of Environment Quality from 1979 to 2000. In his retirement founded Cabrera Enterprises Services in 2001, which is active to this day. Ike was previously a board member of Marianas Resource Conservation and Development Council from 2004-2012. He also served on the Pacific Basin Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) board from 2004-2007 and the Saipan/Northern Islands SWCD from 2001-2007. Today, when he is not working on his farm, he is still actively involved with SWDC particularly with watershed projects and our Friends group. 

Founder / Chairman Emeritus

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Dr. Larisa Ford

Dr. Larisa Ford is retired from the Department of Interior and in her last post served as the Project Leader for the Mariana Islands Refuges and Monument Complex, and Superintendent of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Dr. Ford is a remote Board Member and resides in Texas. She has been passionate about ocean resources her whole life and even received an Oceanography Award during her senior year in high school. She pursued a B.S. in Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston and then completed a Masters in Microbiology focusing on diseases of cephalopods. She continued her education at at Lousiana State University and received a PhD in Veterinary Microbiology with a minor in fisheries. Later she also completed a Master’s in Public Administration – Environmental track – Texas A&M University at Corpus christi. Dr. Ford has over 40 years of experience in as such as marine biology, aquaculture, fisheries, aquatic animal health, wildlife conservation policy, national federal policy, and federal budget formulation and implementation. She has worked throughout the United States and collaborated with scientific projects in Germany and Russia. Her interests include travel, fishing, bird watching, and volunteering to help with environmental stewardship and outdoor education projects.