Congresswoman in Samoa

16 February 2016, 12:00AM

American Samoa Congresswoman, Amata Coleman Radewagen, is in the country. The Washington-DC based politician is a guest speaker at the Samoa Ala Mai Advocacy Group’s Prospective Women’s Candidate Workshop being held today and tomorrow. Aumua is among two speakers from the United States who are in Samoa for the meeting. The second one is Cathy Allen, the President of the consulting firm The Connections Group, Inc. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is also scheduled to speak at the event. This is Aumua’s profile, a story that should motivate Samoan women ahead of the General Elections:

Amata Coleman Radewagen, Republican, was elected as American Samoa’s third Member of Congress on November 4, 2014.  She is the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from American Samoa.  She has been the most senior member of the Republican National Committee since 2012 and holds the orator (talking chief) title of Aumua from the village of Pago Pago in American Samoa where she is a registered voter. 

Amata has been a community activist from American Samoa who volunteers with the hospital Women’s Auxiliary, is a member of Business and Professional Women and is on the board of Goodwill Industries.  A 24-year cancer survivor, Amata has served as spokesperson for the Samoan Women’s Health Project to promote cancer awareness and bring mammography to the territory, and has been liaison to the National Breast Cancer Coalition since 1993.  She also is a member of the board of Field House 100 American Samoa, a non-profit organization devoted to finding athletic scholarship opportunities in the states for talented high school athletes in American Samoa.

Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001 as a White House Commissioner for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), where she chaired the Community Security Committee, Amata was the only Pacific Islander on the 15-member commission, which advised the President on AAPI issues and issued a landmark report on the health care needs of America’s AAPI communities.   Amata has been the featured speaker over the years at numerous Asian Pacific American Heritage observances, including those at numerous military bases in CONUS and Europe.  

Amata also has been very involved in helping build democratic institutions abroad.  As a trainer since 1992, she has participated in missions to Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan and Morocco for the International Republican Institute and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. In 2007 she conducted training in Washington for Iraqi and Uyghur women leaders.  Other international work has included participation in several Pacific regional conferences.

Amata was a member of the 1986 American Council of Young Political Leaders study tour of Australia and was elected a member of the ACYPL Alumni Council in 1987.  She was a member of the advance team for the historic 1990 Honolulu summit between President George H.W. Bush and Pacific Island leaders and assisted the president’s delegation in the meeting; she also was Washington advance liaison for the vice president’s 1989 visit to Pago Pago. 

A member of the U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leadership Staff for eight years, Amata was Conference scheduling director and also supervised the database created to reach out to Asian Pacific and other minority aspirants for congressional staff positions.  She also served as scheduling director to U.S. Rep. Philip Crane (R-IL), the dean of the House Republican Conference at the time of his retirement.  

Earlier in her career, she served at the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.  She also was the first executive assistant to the first delegate-at-large to Washington from American Samoa.  

On the Republican National Committee (RNC), she has served on the Chairman’s Executive Council, the Committee on Arrangements for six national conventions and the Standing Committee on Rules.  She has attended eight Republican National Conventions, twice has been an Officer of the Convention and has been a member of the Convention Committee on Rules six times.  In 2013 she was appointed to the Chairman’s Commission on Convention Planning and, in recognition of her leadership in Pacific Islander communities nationally, received the RNC’s inaugural Trailblazer Award named for Mary Louise Smith, the first woman ever to serve as RNC chairman.

In 2003 she became the first and only Pacific Islander ever chosen as “Outstanding Woman of the Year” by the National Association of Professional Asian American Women (NAPAW). In 2008, she received the International Leadership Foundation’s Visionary Award and in 2013 was presented the “Inspirational Speaker” Award at the Ninth Annual Samoan Athletes Heart of Champions Ceremony in La Mesa, California.  

A life member of the Capitol Hill Club and a founding member of the American Samoa Society, other affiliations over the years have included the Guam Society of America and the Hawaii State Society as well as the Women’s Foreign Policy Group in Washington and the Independent Women’s Forum.  She also belongs to the Pan Pacific and Southeast Asia Women’s Association.

Amata’s biography appears in Who’s Who in Politics, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest and on the United States list of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Register of Skilled Women in the Pacific.  She also was one of the 100 women profiled in The Women of American Samoa 1900-2000: A hundred years of development and achievements, a book prepared in conjunction with the centennial observances of American Samoa as a U.S. territory.  

Amata has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Guam, with additional studies at Loyola-Marymount and George Mason Universities.  One of 13 children of the late Governor and Mrs. Peter Tali Coleman, she is married to Fred Radewagen.  Together they have three grown children and two grandchildren.


16 February 2016, 12:00AM

Trending Stories

Samoa Observer

Upgrade to Premium

Subscribe to
Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy unlimited access to all our articles on any device + free trial to e-Edition. You can cancel anytime.