Falai Riva Taafaki

After finishing my degree at CIE, I took a position as a development consultant with Mottahedeh Development Services (MDS), a private foundation with headquarters in Stamford Connecticut. MDS is a small foundation that provides seed money for various community development initiatives - adult literacy, health, teacher training, project planning, vocational institutes, and school curriculum development - in countries such as India, Thailand, Haiti, Sikkim, and even Samoa in the South Pacific.


In 1992 I was asked by the Baha’i International Council to go to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) in the northern Pacific and meet with the President of the country.  The RMI Government had initiated a community governance school policy and had invited churches and religious institutions to assume academic and management responsibilities of the government elementary schools in the capital city of the Majuro.


Getting little response, the Government then asked the Baha’i Council for help. I met with the President, other officials and teachers to better understand their vision of the role of education in their country’s development.  As a result of my meetings, I recommended to the Baha’i Council that they accept the invitation from the RMI to manage the schools.


I then returned to RMI to develop a long term comprehensive plan including a curriculum and an action plan for its implementation.  My wife Irene, who got her Ed.D. from UMass in 1992, developed the curriculum plan. In 1994 we moved to Majuro in the Marshall Islands where I became a special advisor to the President and the cabinet.  My wife became the Secretary of Education and in 2020 became the President of the College of the Marshall Islands.


The President was then also the Chancellor for the University South Pacific. As my doctoral thesis was on the role of university in national development, it put me in a good position as special advisor. I continued in this role as special advisor for three subsequent Presidents.  I drafted national policies and prepared the President’s statements at UN and other international regional fora.  


In between each presidency I was consultant to the National Training Council, advisor to the Minister of Education and the liaison personnel between UNESCO and the Ministry of Education. I also undertook numerous consultancies with UNDP and UNESCO. Presently I am engaged in a short term consultancy to assess the technical and vocational training needs of the local workforce at the United States Military Base on one of the country’s islands- Kwajalein Atoll.


In 2007/8 I began studying law and in 2012 obtained a Bachelor of Law degree at the University of the South Pacific. In 2013 I became an assistant attorney general at the Office of the Attorney, and was appointed Chief Prosecutor in 2015.  I resigned in May 2020 and established a private law firm. Private Practice allows me greater flexibility to undertake consultancies and gives me some time to enjoy other things such as gardening, fishing, a lot of reading, and zooming with grandchildren.


We have three children, two of whom live in Hawaii and one in New Zealand, and five grandchildren, the eldest of whom graduated from Amherst College in 2017.


I want to express my sincere gratitude to my friends George Urch, the late David Kinsey, Linda Abrams, and the ever youthful Bob Miltz, and of course, the unforgettable, indefatigable Anna Donovan to whom no request for assistance was ever any trouble. Your help, support and friendship enabled me to truly enjoy my study at CIE. [12-20]


Email:  ftaafaki@gmail.com


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CIE Graduate