Fourteen highly-skilled local professionals have been hired by St. Thomas-based BDO USVI, a professional services firm partnering with FEMA contractor Witt O’Brien’s on a program management office working with agencies receiving federal disaster funding to help ensure reconstruction projects are completed efficiently. Proper implementation of the PMO function is essential to the success of the U.S.V.I.’s long-term recovery, BDO officials said in a statement.
The close-knit BDO USVI PMO group will operate within the V.I. Public Finance Authority’s newly established Office of Disaster Recovery, which will provide strategic oversight for the expected $8 billion in federal disaster recovery funds allotted to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The new hires selected for the PMO, a first in the territory, have many years of experience in analytics, project management and communications in various industries. Melania Girigoria, who joined BDO USVI’s PMO as a project analyst, was in the process of relocating when she was contacted about the new opportunity.
“I was literally packing items into a moving box and had already ended my lease when I received the call,” she said.
“There aren’t many opportunities locally for persons with my project management or technical skills, so I was very thankful for this role, which gives me the opportunity to give back to my community while doing work that I love,” she said.
At the start of the V.I. recovery program, Witt O’Brien’s and the Government of the Virgin Islands made a commitment to transition some of the management of the program and skilled technical positions to local professionals as soon as possible. This transition is being accelerated by the new partnership between BDO USVI and Witt O’Brien’s, whose business relationship began shortly after the hurricanes in late 2017.
Alain Leroy, BDO USVI’s PMO director, praised the partnership with Witt O’Brien’s as one that puts local professionals back to work and contributes to stopping the local ‘brain drain’ — a phenomenon that sees skilled professionals leaving the territory in search of better career opportunities.
“Our partner Witt O’Brien’s has afforded BDO USVI a remarkable opportunity that has allowed us to hire topnotch, homegrown talent from St. Thomas and St. Croix,” Leroy said. “This shows the commitment of Witt O’Brien’s to ensure federal funds for local disaster recovery benefit the local community in every way.”
Witt O’Brien’s recovery expert, Norberto Dueñas, joined the USVI recovery team within a few months of retiring as the city manager of San Jose, Calif., America’s tenth largest city, bringing with him hands-on experience managing large capital improvement programs.
The PMO duties will include collecting and analyzing data related to federally funded disaster-recovery projects across government agencies and instrumentalities in order to ensure projects start and end on time and remain within pre-determined budgets.
For more information, contact Cynthia Graham at [email protected].