The CNMI University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the Northern Marianas College is pleased to feature 3 of its current and former Consumer Advisory Committee members who were recognized for their long-standing advocacy efforts at an awards ceremony hosted by the Disability Network Partners on March 2, 2021 at the Fiesta Resort in Saipan.
CAC chairperson Emeterio Fitial, who joined the event virtually from Guam, received the coveted award that distinguishes him as the Saipan Community Advocate of the Year. Fitial continues to be an active member of the CNMI disability network for numerous years. He currently serves as the chairperson of the UCEDD CAC, secretary of the Council on Developmental Disabilities, member of the NMPASI Board, vice president of the Center for Living Independently Board, fiscal officer of the State Rehabilitation Council, and member of VOICES of the CNMI. Fitial also previously served on the Statewide Independent Living Council.
Susan Satur, former vice chairperson and current member of the CAC, was also recognized as the Saipan Advocate of the Year. Satur has dedicated her life to improving the lives of others from day one. She taught at Mt. Carmel School and Garapan Elementary School in the early years of her educational career. Later, she worked as a counselor at the Northern Marianas College. Upon retiring from the CNMI government, Satur entered the private sector and worked as a social worker assistant at Marianas Health Services. Currently, she is the executive director for the CNMI Center for Living Independently.
Lastly, the Disability Network Partners also recognized Monika Diaz - originally from Tinian but now residing in Oregon, with both the Tinian and Saipan Self-Advocate of the Year awards. Diaz continues to be a leader in the self-advocacy movement in the CNMI. Though she had faced many challenges including discrimination in the workplace, instead of giving up Diaz took the high road to settle disagreements with the appropriate agencies like NMPASI. She successfully advocated for accommodation with her former employer that now paves the way for future employees with disabilities to receive reasonable accommodations. Even from afar, Diaz continues to advocate for her island of Tinian with local legislators. She is known to be very active in organizing fundraising events to benefit people with developmental and other disabilities in the CNMI. Diaz is passionate about making our local communities truly accessible for people with disabilities. Recently, Diaz collaborated with UCEDD and the Family to Family Health Information Center to train disability stakeholders in preparing for an emergency or disaster using the “Feeling Safe, Being Safe” curriculum.