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Melissa B. Savares, Mayor of Dededo, Guam, is Named NASBE’s 2022 Friend of Education

Alexandria, VA – Melissa Savares, mayor of Dededo on the Island of Guam, is being honored as the 2022 Friend of Education by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). This national award is given annually to an individual or organization whose contributions to preK-12 education are significant and enduring.

Savares has been the mayor of Dededo since 2005. A true champion for children, Mayor Savares has collaborated with mayors throughout the island to raise awareness of the need to prevent substance abuse through community activities for young people that urge them to avoid drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

“Mayor Savares’s unselfish service, commitment, and passion for providing the children of Guam with opportunities to explore and learn has been the catalyst for improving public education,” Guam Education Board member Maria Gutierrez said. “She is a devoted and strong advocate for ensuring all children receive the skills they need to succeed and believes it is critical that they all have the opportunity to get a good education without enduring extreme hardships and hurdles.”

She has also sought to ensure that every child in foster care finds a permanent home. Guam has over 400 foster children in emergency home placements, but there are less than 40 licensed homes on the island. As a result of the mayor’s recruitment efforts, at least 19 families have stepped up to get screened and licensed to become foster parents.

“Mayor Savares is a true pillar of the Guam political and social community. She embodies the dedication and commitment of a social warrior fighting for a more prosperous and educated community. She is a shining example and a gem within our Pacific Island community,” said Robert Crisostomo, a member of the Guam Education Board, who with Gutierrez, nominated Savares for the award.

Before becoming mayor, Savares was instrumental in organizing the Youth Summer Camp Program in the Village of Dededo for children ages 5 to 12. Years later, as commissioner of the Serve Guam Commission–AmeriCorps Programs, Savares arranged to provide tutoring services for students in the Astumbo area of Dededo. AmeriCorps members tutored students twice a week for over 10 years. Seeing the need for family members to earn high school diplomas, she partnered with the Guam Community College Adult Education Program to offer classes at the Astumbo Senior Citizen Center.

“I am truly honored to be selected as NASBE’s 2022 Friend of Education. The work that we do within our island community as mayors is a team effort to better serve everyone who lives here on Guam,” Savares said. “I thank my colleagues at the Mayors’ Council of Guam for allowing me to serve as their representative on the Guam Education Board to help ensure a better education community for all families. I thank our other partners who help us provide the much-needed services to empower all members of the family unit.  I thank my family for their support in all that I do to serve my Village of Dededo. And lastly, I thank God for giving me the strength to be a public servant to our residents.”

“Mayor Savares exemplifies the dedicated service and problem-solving ability we would like to see in all our government leaders,” said Paolo DeMaria, NASBE president and CEO. “We applaud her many years of efforts to make the lives of the children and families of Guam better.”

NASBE’s full slate of awards will be presented at its Annual Conference, October 26–29, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances.



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