Lourdes T. Pangelinan is from Guam, often referring to herself as a ‘simple Chamorro woman’. She graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1976 with a degree in international relations and then completed a year of postgraduate study in France.
Ms Pangelinan began her career as a journalist with a Guam newspaper before being appointed Special Assistant to the Lieutenant Governor of Guam in 1979, based in San Francisco. She returned to Guam in 1984 to become Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor of Guam, and later took up the role of Director of Communications with the Superior Court of Guam.
She first joined SPC as Deputy Director-General in 1996. At the time, she was no stranger to SPC, having represented Guam at SPC technical and policy meetings for a number of years.
When Ms Pangelinan became Director-General of SPC in January 2000, she made history as the first woman to lead SPC and the first to lead a Pacific regional organisation. She maintained an ‘open door’ management style, and under her guidance, SPC became a leaner and more efficient organisation while retaining its Pacific Island heart and soul. Pacific Community members unanimously reappointed her to the position of Director-General for three twoyear terms, the last of which ended in January 2006.
Three months earlier, at the 4th Conference of the Pacific Community in Palau, delegates paid tribute to her vision, leadership and wisdom. The Hon. Felix Camacho, Governor of Guam, stated, ‘We on Guam are extremely proud of her accomplishments. Lou will not be lost to SPC, as her excellent work, her positive contribution and tremendous influence over the past 10 years will carry on.’ The French ambassador, His Excellency Bruno Gain, said that her ‘smiling authority, enormous talent and outstanding work [had] contributed to maintaining SPC as a healthy and strong organisation’.
Ms Pangelinan continues to work in the region. In February 2007, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat appointed her as manager for development of the Regional Institutional Framework (RIF) Stage Two.