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CDC-USA Election: Isaac Vah Tukpah Talks Policy, Politics, and Leadership (Interview)

CDC-USA Election: Isaac Vah Tukpah Talks Policy, Politics, and Leadership (Interview)

(Jun 29, 2012) By: Ralph Tolbert
As CDC-USA’s weekend convention in Pennsylvania inches closer, the two candidates for the chairmanship post are making their respective rounds with the Liberian Diaspora media powerhouses, to unveil both their competing visions and their leadership credentials. 

Few days ago, Isaac Vah Tukpah, Jr., a candidate for the post of chairmanship, responded to a request for an exclusive interview with The Liberian Journal (TLJ). 

Please find below transcript of the interview: 

Question (TLJ):    For those that don't know the man, WHO IS ISAAC VAH TUKPAH Jr.? 

ANS:    I am a husband of 16 years and a father of 4 beautiful children. I hail from Rivercess County, Liberia. I attended elementary, high school and college in Liberia before matriculating the United States in 1986. I consider myself a family man and a patriot. 

Question (TLJ):    We understand that you are seeking the position of National Chairman of CDC-USA, what makes you qualified to lead such an office? 

Tukpah:   I feel that I am qualified to lead this organization because of my leadership qualities, professional experience, my political baptism, my advocacy, my flexibility to deal in the corporate boardroom and relate in the slums of Liberia, my temperament, and my unshakeable belief in the core values of the CDC. I have a BSC in Economics and an MBA and I am a Project Management Professional (PMP).  I have 20 years financial and project management experience to include the use of the Microsoft Office suite of tools and numerous other software applications. I analyze the feasibility of major computer and enterprise architecture implementations from a financial, business, and technical perspective.  In the last several years, I have provided consulting advice to major US government agencies to include the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Systems. I have comprehensive knowledge of project and program management principles, theories, concepts, and standards and a heavy dose of risk management. I am currently the Workstream A Lead for the Dynamics Research Corporation project team responsible for implementing Knowledge Management on the Health Informatics Initiative at the VA. 

Question (TLJ):    :    Looking at your bio, one may gather that you have strong analytical and implementation skills, but what about your interpersonal skills, what exemplifies you as a leader of people? 

Tukpah:    I have led many organizations and work very well with people. I am currently the Vice Chairman of Administration for CDC-USA and have worked extensively in outreach programs with key youth leaders of CDC in Liberia. Before ever becoming a part of CDC, I founded and still am Chairman of the Board of the Liberian Emergency and Disaster Relief Fund (LEADER Fund, a charitable organization that has been involved in providing relief to disaster stricken families in Liberia. We have raised funds over the years and carried out outreach programs within the country. Some of our work include:


§ collecting medical supplies & equipment for shipment to Liberia

§ collecting sporting/track uniforms, materials, and equipment for shipment to Liberia to establishment of a youth sports & leadership program

      January 2011 - Donated several barrels of medical supplies to Phebe Hospital and & text books to Nursing students at Phebe Hospital

      January 2010 – Donated desperately needed medical supplies which included, gauze, salves, wound supplies, and a glucose monitor to Phebe Hospital, in Bong County, Liberia

      January 2010 – Donated $500 to Red Cross Liberia to support relief services to citizens of Narwei, Bong County affected by caterpillar invasion

      December 2008 donated $200 to Pennsylvania, USA family involved in tragic fire

      November 2008 – Donated $200 to Sackie Nyanquoi who had acid viciously poured on him by armed robbers. Unsuccessfully intervened with doctors in Liberia and the USA to facilitate plastic surgery for Sackie.

      Brought attention to flooding in Liberia and through the Liberian Red Cross provided relief to flood victims in 2007

I have been proactive in taking several trips to Liberia to assist the CDC in Liberia with voter registration process in encouraging our partisans to register to vote. In January 2011, I worked with Ambassador Weah and many committed CDCians to mobilize our membership to register to vote. In October 2011, I returned to assist with the campaign activities and worked well with folks on the ground by visiting Atiya Shops to present the CDC Agenda, participating in talk shows and radio interviews to dispel the smear tactics of the Unity Party propaganda machinery, and vising the party headquarters daily to interact with my fellow CDCians. In totality, I have exhibited leadership and interpersonal skills and continue to do so within our party since I've joined this Popular Peoples Movement. 

Question (TLJ):    :    Mr. Tukpah, you just mentioned some of the things you have done in the CDC while in Liberia. What are some of your other key accomplishments in CDC-USA that you believe validates your leadership and supports your byline of “Change by Example?” 

Tukpah :    Thanks for asking this question.  I believe my performance in the CDC to date is a true reflection of “Change by Example.” I am a doer and believe that leaders should do just that, lead by example. In addition to my activities in Liberia over the last couple of years, my major accomplishments in the CDC in no chronological sequence are:

provided accurate and regular reports during my tenure as acting Financial Secretary-CDC-USA; co-authored the CDC Constitution; registered the CDC-USA as a non-profit organization in the state of Maryland; prepared the documentation and registered the CDC-USA as a non-profit organization with the IRS; assisted with coordination and organization of an open house featuring CDC Standard Bearer, Amb. George M. Weah and diaspora professionals; in collaboration with Partisans Toyuwa Harris, Piso Saydee-Tarr, and other partisans set up the new CDC website and continue to maintain it; coordinated the CDC-USA fundraising effort for the candidacy of Philbert Toe for the River Gee Representative seat by-elections; coordinated and assisted with the homegoing preparations and arrangements of the late CDC-USA Chairman Emeritus Hon. Harry Gbesi; along with Partisan Samuel Tweah, was primary co-author of the CDC Agenda for the 2011 General & Presidential Elections; coordinated off-campaign communication and propaganda activities for the 2011 General & Presidential Elections to ensure that CDC get positive and favorable stories in the press in Liberia; facilitated a Lesson Learned session with partisans at the CDC Party Headquarters after the first round of the 2011 General & Presidential Elections; authored a post elections “Way Forward” document for the CDC;  just to name a few. 

Question (TLJ):    :    Many say that CDC in Liberia and CDC-USA are usually not on the same level, and that CDC-USA is seen as an auxilliary or just a figure head of the mother party and have no impact on the ground, how do you address this concern and if you were to become the new Chairman of CDC-USA, how do you overcome this? 

Tukpah:    Well, for those who postulate that notion, I say they are simply misinformed. CDC-USA plays a major role in the CDC.  The USA branch serves as the lifeline of the party and we are very effective in this regard when it comes to fundraising, image building and fighting the cyber negativity directed at the CDC. CDC-USA has a voting seat on the National Executive Committee in Liberia, so one cannot say that we do not have impact. Since 2005, CDC-USA has repeatedly raised money and contributed financially to CDC in Liberia. Is there room for improvement? Definitely there is! The challenges are there when you are remote as we are from Liberia, and the technological infrastructure is not there to operate seamlessly. However, this is why I have adopted the theme “Change By Example.”  I have used personal resources to go to Liberia to help bridge that gap between the two branches and I have established solid professional and amicable working relationship between Liberia and USA. I have approached a role of assisting instead of dictating. This is what sets me apart from others and what we mean by “Change by Example.” We are looking to build an institution, so under my leadership I will use all of my abilities to ensure this is a legacy I leave as a benchmark for future leaders of this party.  If you look at my platform I speak on an array of issues and agenda items we want to put forward. But key amongst them are communication and fundraising. Communication is one of the inhibitors between the two organizations. We will make an all out effort to communicate in a diverse strategy with CDC Liberia on a daily basis, yes I said daily, so that we are au courant with the sensitivities and sensibilities of the partisans on the ground, the needs of the counties, and the programs of the leadership team. We will look to change from within. In the USA we will change our current format. We will visit each existing chapter and hold at least once a yearly face-to-face meeting with ALL partisans in a chosen state and deliver the state of affairs to our people. We have to empower partisans by letting them know what is happening within their party. We will also look to revive non-functional chapters and develop new ones in Georgia, upstate New York, Delaware, and North Carolina to start. We will do this effectively by establishing a monthly Enewsletter. This is the Change by Example we are speaking of. 

Question (TLJ):    :    Many may say that the CDC is NOT an institution and that it is George Weah's party because he pays for everything, what difference can you make? 

Tukpah:    That can only be the perception or impression of the uninitiated. CDC is indeed an institution and NOT Amb. Weah's party. If they mean that he is the Standard Bearer and our political leader, then yes they are right. But if they are thinking that he runs the party because of his financial contributions, then they are sadly mistaken. Our brief history as a party can bail us out on that. So there's no need to elaborate further.  As you may or may not know,  CDC-USA is a registered 501C nonprofit organization, so we plan on using this status to raise funds for the party here in the Americas.  But to answer your question, I told you before the CDC-USA is a lifeline for the CDC. We will ensure that we aggressively raise funds to meet our financial obligations and attract other financial contributors so that Amb. Weah is not perceived as the sole contributor to the organization’s bottomline. 

Question (TLJ):    :    We have recently witnessed Mr. Tubman emerge as the last Standard Bearer of the CDC, Who is CDC planning on taking as Standard Bearer in 2017? 

Tukpah:    That’s an interesting question, however we have a lot of mileage to traverse before we can reach that decision point. I believe that we should have long term future state plan with a building blocks approach. First, I believe we have to strengthen our internal organization, especially our mobilization for and support of CDC’s candidates in the bi-election for Montserrado District 11. In my discussion with Ambassador Weah today, he is doing exactly that to ensure our candidate campaigns vigorously and win the will of the people. Next, we have to focus on winning a majority of the 2014 midterm elections senatorial seats. Then our next step will be looking towards 2017. If we accomplish the previous two targets, I believe we will have implemented a strong organizational foundation, created great structure in the counties, and excited our partisans on the prospect of 2017.  Now to answer your question, CDC as an institution has a bible called the constitution. We will have a primary that will be open, free, and fair to anyone interested in contesting for the position. Whomsoever emerges as was the case in Kakata where Mr. Weah lost to Mr. Tubman, will then become the new CDC standard bearer. But we are not there yet. Like I said, we have a building blocks approach to 2017. We have the vision, we are constructing the elements of the plan, and e have to effectively work and execute the plan to be successful. 

Question (TLJ):    :    What do you plan on accomplishing in the first 90 days of your administration? 

Tukpah:    In the first 90 days of our administration, we expect to accomplish 15 sub-major objectives, namely:

1.    Develop a solid working relationship with CDC Liberia

2.    Establish direct communication with County Chairs and begin bilateral discussions between pilot adopting chapters and targeted counties

3.    Approve at least two new chapters in the US

4.    Revitalize our website, and begin to drive traffic there for everything CDC

5.    Improve our Facebook Page and commission a Twitter handle

6.    Produce 2 editions of the CDC ENewsletter

7.    Set up an efficienct and transparent financial reporting system

8.    Initiate the population of the CDC National Membership Database

9.    Formally engage the CDC Legislative Caucus to identify ways to supplement research and policy gap support

10. Formally request

11. Standardize membership morale building actions:

a.     CDCian of the Month

b.    new membership welcome letter

c.     birthdays and special events recognition

12. Establish “Word from the Standard Bearer to CDC-USA” Diaspora Conference Call at least twice a year

13. Establish “Quarterly Message from the Chairman of CDC to CDC-USA” Diaspora Conference Call

14. Develop mobilization plan for increasing and documenting membership in each county

15. Ensure that the CDC-USA Constitution becomes our living guide in the way we conduct business. 

Question (TLJ):    :    Mr. Tukpah, any last minute or parting things you want to leave your audience with? 

: Tukpah I would like to tell your reading audience that these are exciting times in the CDC. We are embarking upon a new phase in the movement and our mantra, “Change by Example”, will be symbolic of everything we do. Our disposition is one of positive engagement and we are inviting all interested Liberians to join us in this effort. Yes, the CDC is opening its doors as there is a role for everyone to participate and contribute to making Liberia a better place.  

I would like to thank you for granting me this interview and providing me this opportunity to communicate pertinent information about myself and my vision for CDC-USA and ultimately the CDC. 

Mr. Tukpah, we thank you for taking this time to meet with us and answering these questions and good luck in your endeavor. Thank you

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