First Chamorro Woman to Preside over Association of Pacific Island Legislatures

Herminia Duenas DierkingHerminia Duenas Dierking (1939 – 2008) was a senator in the Guam Legislature, a professor at the University of Guam, and a cabinet officer in the Government of Guam. As a senator she became the first woman to serve as president of the regional organization, Association of Pacific Island Legislatures.

Dierking is the daughter of Maria Pangelinan Guzman and Jose Cruz Duenas. She was born in 1939 in Hagåtña. She graduated from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam and pursued college degrees from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and the University of Guam where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business. She also earned a Masters of Science degree in Business Administration from Emporia State University, Kansas.

She was married to John C. Dierking and together they had five children, Cliff, Kurt, Steven, Anna Maria, and John Paul.

Dierking began her career as an assistant professor at the University of Guam and rose to become the chairperson of the Accounting Department, serving 13  years in the College of Business and Public Administration. She was appointed Director of the Bureau of Budget and Management Research in 1983 and as the Chairperson of the Fiscal Policy Committee of the Government of Guam.

Dierking first became a Senator in the 18th Guam Legislature and was re-elected for four more terms. During her tenure as a Senator, she served as Chairwoman of the Committee on Ways and Means, Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules, Chairwoman of the Committee on Health, Welfare, & Ecology, and Vice Chair of the Committee on General Governmental Operations.

In addition to her leadership positions in the Guam Legislature, Dierking also was appointed to represent Guam in the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures. She was the APIL president for the 1989-1990 term, the first woman to serve as president of this regional body.

Dierking served as president of the Association of Government Accountants, the Guam Business Education Association, and the Guam Business and Professional Women’s Club. She was also appointed to serve in leadership roles for the Western Business Education Association, American Heart Association, and Guam Memorial Board of Trustees. She was a member of the Soroptimist International, the Guam Lytico and Bodig Association and the Guam Memorial Hospital Volunteers Association. She passed away in 2008.

Editor’s Note: This biography was originally written in 2014 for a series on the first women of Guam, women who did things first in their fields, as commissioned by the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce.