Laurie Peterka

A 25-year CNMI business professional with an impressive history of concurrent community service through a wide range of local nonprofits. Laurie co-founded several local NGOs including Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument (FOMT), Island SK8 Society, the Northern Mariana Islands Volleyball Association, and the Pacific Ombudsman for Humanitarian Law. In the last 15-years she has worked closely with indigenous community groups and top-level leadership in six different countries throughout the Pacific Islands in establishing various marine protected areas. In addition to being FOMT’s current volunteer Executive Director, she is a founding member and largely responsible for driving the FOMT projects accomplished during 2017-2020. For the last 14 years, Laurie has actively engaged in analyzing and problem solving for nonprofits and curating solutions through grant proposal writing, grant management, organizational development and capacity building. Laurie is a graduate of Northern Marianas College and holds a Bachelor of Science in Management degree from University of Phoenix.

Executive Director / Co-Founder

Joseph Villacrusis

Joseph Villacrusis, better known as “Joe” – worked professionally in the banking industry for over 7 years before becoming a classroom teacher with the CNMI Public School System for 11 years. Holds an Associates in Applied Science – Business Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Science – Dietetics. Currently enlisted with the U.S. Army Reserves for 13 years. Participated in the 2010 Micronesian Games in Palau for the CNMI Men’s Basketball Team. Physically active in the community participating in events such as the Saipan Marathon and various running events, American Red Cross Walk-a-Thon, and beach clean ups. An entrepreneur running a small business, selling merchandise to help with ocean conservation and protection. Company name is Salty Skin Pacific, LLC.

Project Coordinator for Project HOPE.

Jess Quitano

Jessielyn T. Quitano is currently pursuing her Associates in Science, under the Natural Resource Management program at the Northern Marianas College. She is an employee, a student, and a mother to two little farmer girls. Jessielynn was born and raised on a farm in Asteo, Saipan. She enjoys the outdoors and is passionate about proper management of our natural resources. Initially joining HOPE as an intern, she is now the Program Coordinator for HOPE’s Ocean Elders and is involved in other areas of the Friends of the Mariana Trench

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Bekke White

Rebecca C. White is from Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. She is a Northern Marianas College graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. She is the Office Manager for The Law Offices of Michael A. White, LLC. She spent the early part of her career doing collections and secretarial work before transitioning to Office Manager. The best part of what she does is being able to work closely with her staff in ensuring efficient office operations and optimizing workflow to better assist the office’s clients and debtors. She enjoys her role in the Office because it allows her to challenge herself professionally and personally by being task-oriented and balancing the duties and responsibilities required as the Office Manager, like dictations and transcriptions and administrative organization. Working with the Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument (FOMT) is a perfect opportunity for her to gain new skills and better improve her work experience.

Administrative Assistant


Dr. Beylul Solomon

Dr. Beylul Solomon is an Associate Professor in the School of Education’s Rehabilitation and Human Services concentration at the Northern Marianas College. She has had several years of experience teaching undergraduate students as well as supervising research assistants as the doctoral, master, and undergraduate level. In addition to her teaching experience, Dr. Solomon has extensive research experience and expertise in the use of electrophysiological methods for examining emotion-attention interactions in children and adults using neurphysiological measurement approaches (EEG) and behavioral methodologies. For Project HOPE, Dr. Solomon is responsible for all aspects of Data Management, including survey creation and data analyses.

Dr. Solomon holds a B.A. degree in Social Sciences, a M.A. degree in Psychology, and a Ph.D in Developmental Psychology.

Data Management & Analysis

Sylvia C. Frain

Dr. Sylvia Frain

Sylvia co-founded, along with the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies alumnus, Dr. Monica Carr, The Everyday Peace Initiative, Peace research, education, and consulting: supporting people and communities to build peace through research and education.

Currently serves as a Research Affiliate with the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, and continues as a member of the Vakatele Pacific Research Network at Auckland University of Technology, after completing her position as the inaugural postdoctoral fellow with the Pacific Media Centre in 2018.

Sylvia continues to use new media platforms to archive her research data and share resources for others working Oceania. In addition, she created and curates the research-oriented Facebook page, Oceania Resistance to share her research in the Marianas Archipelago and highlight current issues impacting Oceania. Her work is linked through the hashtag #OceaniaResistance and her doctoral thesis is available as an e-book on the Guam-based website, Guampedia.

Data Management Research Assistance

Sophia Perez

Sophia Perez acts as a Communications Consultant for Friends of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. She also writes and produces short educational documentaries for Marianas Variety and volunteer’s as a sailor for 500 Sails. 

Media Content Development & Communications Consulting

TurnKey Solutions

TurnKey Solutions is a local CNMI consulting firm that specializes in customized web development / design, database development & management, search engine optimization, and data analytics utilizing the latest technology trends. We are innovators that are passionate about enabling our clients the opportunity to optimize their existing business or government operations while providing actual real time customer service. The TurnKey team is represented collectively by; Billy Grow, Jerry Lin, Broc Calvo, and Charlie Atalig. We enjoy going to the beach, hiking, golfing, paddling, and spending time with family & friends. 

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Shawn Davis

Shawn Davis is based on the island of Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. She leverages her 30 years’ of experience in organizational skills, administrative assistance, policy development, research and analysis, day-to-day accounting procedures to assist businesses in operating smoothly. 

Rufo Mafnas

Rufo Mafnas Bio

Roberto Guerrero

Marianas Islands Nature Alliance (MINA) is proud to enter into this partnership with FOMT’s Project HOPE in the development and implementation of their Ocean Conservation Camps. Jolly Ann Cruz, Project Manager, will bring MINA’s eight years of experience in developing and presenting environmental education activities to sixth grade students that instill in them a passion for protecting and conserving the limited natural resources of the CNMI. Jolly Ann holds an AS in Natural Resources Management and a BS in Elementary Education, and with the support of MINA’S Tasi Watch Rangers and Administration, is excited to work with Laurie and the Project HOPE team in the years ahead.

Emma Perez

Emma Perez is a Chamorro elder and co-founder of 500 Sails, a CNMI non-profit cultural organization dedicated to restoring the Chamorro maritime tradition in the Mariana Islands. A big part of her work is outreach to youth, teaching about the Chamorro and Carolinian maritime traditions and “planting a seed in the minds of the listeners that will grow into a desire to participate in traditional canoe culture”. Emma is excited to be part of Project HOPE where elders will guide youth to an understanding of how closely our lives are tied to the ocean that has shaped our island society and sustained our people for millennia.