Dr. Crissy Gayagas discusses sustainability for good
Citing the words of the late American comedian, actor, author, television host and artist, Jonathan Winters, Col. Christine “Crissy” Gayagas (Ret.), Ed.D., told attendees that, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it!” In other words, don’t become apathetic. Take action.
As Regional Program Lead (RPL) for the Indo-Pacific, which is part of the Advising and Consulting (A&C) Division at the Institute for Security Governance (ISG), the self-described Army brat plays an important role in engaging partners in the vital Indo-Pacific Region.
“Eighty percent of goods are transited by water and 60 percent of that goes through the Indo-Pacific Region,” said Gayagas, Chaminade Board of Governors chair. “If conflict broke out in that region, it would create instability, and you probably wouldn’t receive that Amazon order you placed.”
As part of the School of Business & Communication Dean’s Speaker Series, Gayagas’s discussion focused on Sustainable Business for Good and the U.S.’s strategy for and paradigm shift in the Indo-Pacific region. In recent years, the Biden-Harris Administration has made historic strides to restore American leadership in the Indo-Pacific and adapt its role for the 21st century. A few years ago, the United States modernized its longstanding alliances, strengthened emerging partnerships, and forged innovative links among them to meet urgent challenges, from competition with China to climate change to the pandemic.
Stretching from the Pacific coastline to the Indian Ocean, the area is home to more than half of the world’s people, nearly two-thirds of the world’s economy and seven of the world’s largest militaries. And in the years ahead, as the region drives as much as two-thirds of global economic growth, its influence will only grow—as will its importance to the United States.
“In a 2021 address during the East Asia Summit, President Biden said he envisions an Indo-Pacific that is open, connected, prosperous, resilient and secure,” Gayagas quoted to attendees. “We want to build our collective capacity with partner nations throughout the region. The more people who are empowered, the better we are for it.”
With a military career that spans across 24 years and three deployments, Gayagas became the only battalion commander who was a mother when she saw action in Iraq. She considers her service in the Army as the first phase of her life. The second phase was exploratory, and the third and current phase are convergent, allowing her two initial stages to come together to form a new whole.
“Within these three phases, I was always guided by five elements: passion, people, persistence, priority and pivot,” Gayagas explained. “Identify your passion and keep chipping away until you’re ready to take a deep dive. In the Army, we have a saying: Mission First, People Always. Seek out a support system. Persist and do what works for you. Assess your position and ask if it’s moving your North Star. Be ready to recognize diminishing returns and be open to pivot.”
After multiple Army command and staff positions around the United States (101st Airborne Division and 25th Infantry Division) and in Germany (8th Infantry Division), and operational and strategic experience in the Army’s Human Resources Command and with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) in Texas and in Iraq, Gayagas retired in 2008 and started her own consulting firm MMGT Consulting, LLC.
“I wanted to create space for my daughter,” said Gayagas, citing the reason for her retirement from the Army. “In this third phase of my life, I am going to pivot and enjoy full-time retirement or a quarter retirement so I can create more lunch space with my parents (gesturing to her dad Ed and mom Norma Gayagas who were seated in the front row), and pursue more hobbies.”
Opening the floor to questions, John Barayuga ’25 asked Gayagas if her passions evolved over time or did it remain the same. “I really appreciated her answer about how her passion stayed relatively the same but with a few tweaks over time,” said Barayuga, an Accounting major with minors in Hawaiian Studies and Business Administration. “It reassured me of how our paths are a constant adventure of self-discovery.
“My biggest take-away was the five P’s [principles] that Dr. Gayagas shared,” Barayuga added. “I feel the lecture exceeded what I was expecting from it. And I am looking forward to future events!”