Senator Kalani Kaneko from the Republic of the Marshall Islands Joins the WICHE Commission

  • Year Published : 2022
  • Month Published : October

Headshot of Senator Kalani Kaneko from RMI. He is smiling and wearing a gray suit and two leis, one is red and one is green. BOULDER, Colo. – The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education welcomes Senator Kalani Kaneko from the Republic of the Marshall Islands as its newest commissioner.

As part of the WICHE Commission, Kaneko represents the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States, a joint membership shared by the Marshall Islands with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.

Kaneko has served as a senator in the Republic of the Marshall Islands Nitijela (the equivalent of the country’s parliament) since 2016 and represents the capital of Majuro Atoll. He currently serves as the chairman of the health, education, and social affairs committee and been a member for two terms. In addition, Kaneko is a member of the Marshall Islands Scholarships, Grant and Loan Board (MISGLB). The MISGLB serves as oversight for the nation’s scholarship program for postsecondary education locally and overseas.

“To be a prosperous nation, the Republic of the Marshall Islands must have well-educated, able, and determined residents, and our membership with WICHE is helping us achieve that goal,” Kaneko said. “Higher education has made an incredible difference in my life, and I aim to work with my WICHE colleagues on behalf of the Pacific Islands region so that more students may have the same opportunities.”

Kaneko is a graduate of Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut, with degrees in marketing and business management. He joins Frankie Eliptico, vice president of administration and advancement at Northern Marianas College, and Rodney Jacob, attorney and partner at Calvo Fisher & Jacob LLP, as WICHE Commissioners for the Pacific Islands region.

“We welcome Senator Kaneko to the commission and look forward to his contributions. WICHE’s growing partnerships with the territories and freely associated states in the region these last few years are thanks to substantial leadership and collaboration, and Senator Kaneko’s vision for higher education and workforce development will only bolster that success,” said WICHE President Demarée Michelau.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is an independent nation that operates in a special diplomatic relationship with the United States, known as free association. Through this relationship, Marshallese citizens have access to numerous U.S. education programs (including eligibility for Pell Grants), and the College of the Marshall Islands operates under accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, participating in numerous federal education programs.



Since 1953, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education has been strengthening higher education, workforce development, and behavioral health throughout the region. From promoting high-quality, affordable postsecondary education to helping states get the most from their technology investments and addressing behavioral health challenges, WICHE improves lives across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy. WICHE members include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States.


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