November 30, 2022

Humanities Council elects new officers and board members | Way of life

(Press release) – The Northern Marianas Human Sciences Council elected a new slate of officers and board members at its quarterly meeting on April 25, 2022. Dr. Bobby James A. Cruz was elected as President, Gretchen A. Smith as Vice President, and Leonard Leon as Secretary/Treasurer.

Dr. Cruz began serving on the board in February 2021 and was previously chair of the program committee. He holds a Doctor of Education in Instructional Leadership and currently directs the Instructional Technology and Distance Education program for the CNMI public school system. He also co-leads school mental health services. Dr. Cruz is a long-time community volunteer and advocate for diversity and inclusion.

Smith’s tenure began in October 2021 when she served as Board Secretary/Treasurer. She holds a Juris Doctorate from UC Davis School of Law and is currently a law clerk in the US District Court at NMI.

Leon was elected to the Board of Directors in February 2021 and is the current Program Director in CNMI’s Office of Planning and Development. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Creative Media with a minor in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is well known in Saipan as a photographer, filmmaker, cultural jewelry artist and lifelong creator.

The newly elected board members are Lynette L. Villagomez and Samuel M. McPhetres.

Villagomez has over 30 years of experience as a teacher, principal and program director, with system-wide administrative experience at Northern Marianas College and PSS. She is currently the Assistant Director of the Region 18 Comprehensive Center and Senior Pacific Resource Specialist for Education and Learning. She holds a Master of Education in International Education from Framingham State University and credits for a Doctor of Education in Instructional Leadership from Walden University.

McPhetres is the owner of GUMA Architects LLC and has completed projects in Saipan, Guam, Palau and Washington. He holds a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Washington and has decades of experience rendering, modeling and building projects.

The Northern Marianas Humanities Council is a private, non-profit organization affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Council comprises a 13-member volunteer Board of Directors whose mission is to navigate and examine the human experiences of Indigenous and diverse Commonwealth communities by enriching their lives through research, publications, programs and dialogue. For more information on the council’s programs, visit