Pacific Executive Leaders Program (PELP)

Cultivate critical thinking skills, and build collaboration, capacity, and resilience in the Hawaiian Islands and U.S. Pacific Territories.

Prospective Students

Learn about the program and the application.

Current Students

Homeland security and emergency management in the Hawaii Islands and the U.S. Pacific territories continually evolves and presents complex issues and challenges for the region and nation. In partnership with FEMA and other stakeholders in the Pacific region, the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) has developed the Pacific Executive Leaders Program (PELP), which features a graduate-level education curriculum to address specific challenges facing officials in these unique areas.

PELP, which is part of CHDS’ Executive Education Program (EEP), provides a wide range of tailored homeland security educational opportunities designed to help strengthen U.S. capability to prevent, deter, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and public safety threats and to build the intergovernmental, interagency, and civil-military cooperation that homeland security requires.

The original or “Traditional Hilo” PELP offering was a week-long in-residence session offered in Hilo, HI. PELP has since grown into a broader program that provides an umbrella to address regional priorities through various educational sessions. Offerings include customized Executive Education Seminars, which offer opportunities to deliver homeland security education in the classroom or at the host jurisdiction. Attendance at PELP sessions varies on an application and invitation-only basis depending on the particular session. 

PELP sessions provide an opportunity to cultivate the background and critical thinking skills needed to address emerging regional security issues, terrorist threats, public policy debates, collaboration, resilience, and homeland security challenges, including:

  • Geographic isolation from the continental U.S. and other entities
  • Predisposition to various types of natural disasters
  • Impacts of climate change
  • Port security, supply chain resiliency, and safety concerns
  • Proximity to mainland Asia and its geopolitical influences

PELP builds on efforts by regional leaders and stakeholders by engaging with them in collaborative efforts and providing educational opportunities.

Program Objectives

  • Strengthen national security by providing non-degree, graduate-level educational sessions to meet the needs of leaders responsible for homeland defense and security in the Pacific region.
  • Provide an educational forum to enhance leaders’ capacity to identify and resolve complex issues
  • Create regional networks and build relationships between senior leaders across agencies, disciplines, levels of government, NGOs, and the private sector.

Learning Structure and Curriculum

The “traditional” Hilo PELP consists of an intensive one-week in-residence session in Hilo. The course is designed to accommodate the busy schedules of participants. It does not require the workload of a traditional graduate-level course.

Instruction is a combination of presentations and facilitated discussions between faculty, participants, and subject matter experts. Discussions include strategy, policy, and organizational design, complex problem solving, resiliency, capacity building, critical infrastructure, border/immigration, threat and hazard identification, collaboration, communications, and emerging homeland security issues.

Under the PELP umbrella, CHDS also offers topic-specific and Executive Education sessions and supports other events in the Pacific, based on priorities established by FEMA and its Pacific partners. Previous PELP topic-specific sessions included port resilience, power restoration, capacity building, and post-disaster housing plans. CHDS has also conducted executive education workshops for the State of Hawaii, Hawaii Islands Executive Leaders, Guam, American Samoa, and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

“Traditional” Hilo PELP 2401 In-Residence Timeline

Application deadline:
December 1, 2023

In-residenceMarch 4-8, 2024

Criteria and Eligibility

For the “Traditional” or “Hilo PELP” Sessions
Ideal candidates are mid to senior-level professionals in their respective organizations seeking professional development. They are located in the Hawaiian Islands, U.S. Pacific Territories or have significant responsibilities in those jurisdictions. Cohorts include individuals selected from applications and nominations from collaborating agencies and jurisdictions from the region. Attendance and participation are required for the entire week and all sessions.

Selection is based on several considerations, including an individual’s position, responsibilities, the potential benefit to the individual and their organizations, and the experience and knowledge each participant will contribute to each session.

The program is fully sponsored for those selected. It includes travel, per diem, and lodging following federal travel regulations. The sponsorship does not include work time or time spent away from the agency.

If you completed a PELP application for the previous PELP cohort in 2023, there is no need to reapply; your application will automatically be considered for the PELP 2024 cohort. With this being said, we encourage you to update your application if anything has changed since you last submitted it.

Other CHDS or PELP Sessions in the Pacific Region
Other offerings in the Pacific Region are generally invitation only. Attendees are selected in collaboration with the host jurisdiction or agency. Participation is free. Travel is determined on an individual event basis.

PELP Speaker Series
CHDS periodically conducts the PELP Speaker Series, which features a keynote speaker format. Those events are free, and registration is open but limited. Participants are responsible for their travel.

INQUIRIES: Dawn Wilson, EEP Director |

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