Hilda C. Heine
Hilda C. Heine
Country: Republic of the Marshall Islands
Hilda C. Heine was the first Marshallese woman to hold the position of President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, serving from 2016 until 2020. Dr. Heine was born in 1951 on the Jaluit Atoll, where she grew up and attended college. Dr. Heine continued her education in the United States, earning an undergraduate degree in 1970 from the University of Oregon, a master’s degree in 1975 from the University of Hawaii, and an Educational doctorate in 2004 from the University of Southern California.
As president, she constructs a sturdy case for all countries to act to reduce climate change. She spoke to the European Parliament in June, asking for its help in persuading President Donald Trump of the need and urgency of taking action on climate change.
Over a thousand low-lying islands and islets in the Marshall Islands are endangered by climate change, which includes increasing sea levels and more frequent and extreme weather events like droughts and floods.
Dr. Heine was Program Director of the Pacific Comprehensive Assistance Center at the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) in Majuro (2006-2011) and Director of Policy and Capacity Building and Scholar for FAS Education at PREL in Honolulu, respectively, before entering politics (1995-2006). Dr. Heine began his career with the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands as a classroom teacher, school counselor, school administrator, and college president before being named Secretary of Education.
Dr. Heine oversaw the growth of the College of the Marshall Islands from a continuing education schedule to a fully operational community college during her time as President and Secretary of Education. She was also the sole woman in parliament at the time. President Heine has a long list of firsts to his credit. She became the first woman (or man) in the Marshall Islands to receive a doctoral degree in 2004. She was the first female president of the College of Marshall Islands, as well as the college’s first president. Dr. Heine now works on several task forces, committees, and working groups as an advisor, officer, and member.
Dr. Heine led the RMI Teacher Standards and Licensing Board and chaired the Human Resources in Health Task Force as Minister of Education. The College of the Marshall Islands awarded Dr. Heine an honorary doctorate.
Dr. Heine is furthermore the founder of Women United Together Marshall Islands, a women’s rights organization (WUTMI). Dr. Heine co-authored several papers and studies, as well as read historical and contemporary writings on education and social administration in tiny island developing republics.
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