Meet Leah Beth Naholowaa

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A project manager for Guam’s Department of Education, Leah Beth Naholowaa wasn’t always destined for a life in politics.

guam_480Leah Beth Naholowaa remembers the “aunties” at The Salvation Army Bethany Children’s Home in the Philippines where she lived for six years. Every day, they’d survey the long wooden tables and tap their rulers to get everyone back on task. Homework was important.

Now a member of Guam’s Department of Education, Naholowaa remembers those aunties and can’t help but think that in some way—they shaped her desire to work in education.

“Had we not been put in The Salvation Army Bethany Children’s Home, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” she said.

When she was 2, her father, a pastor, was shot and killed and her mother was left reeling. Her aunt, a nun, talked her mother into letting Naholowaa and her sister stay at the Bethany Children’s Home.

“The children’s home is really built in a loving and nurturing environment. We would have a devotion and prayer before bed. The older ones would participate in the outreach for the church. This is where I developed my talent in playing guitar. I played french horn. People like me may regret that they didn’t have a normal childhood, going to the prom and such. God had a different plan for my life. And I’m always and forever grateful for The Salvation Army.”

In 1990, she moved to Saipan to work as a public relations officer for a garment company. She met her husband there and in 1993, they moved to Guam together.

“There are better opportunities in Guam than in Saipan,” she said. “I really bloomed here where God planted me.”

Naholowaa began her career in public service in the summer of 2000 as the University of Guam’s Career Development Officer, where she spent 11 years administering the Career Development Office and its programs. She worked closely with students and graduates, imploring private sector employers to recognize and employ local talent.

In January 2011, Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo appointed Naholowaa as the Director of the Guam Department of Labor.

“Who would’ve thought I would be working a cabinet position here?” she said.

At the department, Naholowaa became a staunch advocate of the local worker. Before leaving the Department in March 2012, she worked to ensure that the government exhausted all efforts to local employment opportunities went to local workers before alien laborers under the H-2B alien labor program.

Now that she’s settled in Guam, she makes it a point to support The Salvation Army’s work and to give back in other ways, including as Pink Ball chairwoman. The Pink Ball committee has assisted over 1,000 Guam residents diagnosed with cancer.  Over $100,000 has been contributed to Guam Cancer Care to finance numerous programs such as Kids for the Cure, Cancer Prevention and Screening, Patient Transport and Financial Assistance.

“I really do owe a lot to The Salvation Army,” she said. “Without them, maybe I would be begging in the streets…But God was there.”

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