On the evening of 28 February 2020, PIDP hosted a candid conversation with Pacific Leaders and Thinkers on regional security, the arts, diplomacy, and the future of the Pacific region. You can download the event flyer and watch the video recap below. Photos of the event are available on the East-West Center’s Flickr page.


Oscar Kightley, MNZM. Actor, writer, director, journalist, television presenter and comedian. Mr. Kightley has written and performed in numerous films, plays and TV shows. He is the recipient of the 2016 Senior Pacific Artist Award from the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifka Awards, and the 2019 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency.

Major General Suzanne Vares-Lum. Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. In this role, she has served as Acting Deputy Commander and Acting Chief of Staff. General Vares-Lum is the recipient of the Defense Superior Service Medal and the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and is a graduate of the UH Manoa ROTC program.

Isabela Silk, Consul General, Republic of the Marshall Islands Consulate in Honolulu. Prior to her arrival in Hawaii on January 2019, Consul General Silk served as Director in the Office of Compact Implementation in Majuro, Marshall Islands, where she covered all matters related to the Compact of Free Association with the United States.

Dr. Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, Director and Associate Professor, Center for Pacific Islands Studies (CPIS) at the University of Hawaii. He is a political scientist with a PhD from the Australian National University and undergraduate and MA degrees from the University of the South Pacific. He has written extensively on governance and geopolitics in the Pacific, and has served as CPIS Director since August 2018.


Ambassador Karena Lyons, Vice President of the East-West Center, Director of Research, and Director of the Pacific Islands Development Program. Vice President Lyons is a passionate advocate for Pacific peoples and Pacific excellence. At the Center, she is the strategic lead for EWC’s Pacific work, which has contributed research, capacity-building, and education to the region for 60 years.