Telena Cruz Nelson is a two-term Democratic senator currently serving as Vice Speaker and Majority Leader of the 35th Guam Legislature.
Vice Speaker Nelson was first elected to the 34th Guam Legislature in the 2016 general election. Although a fresh face in local politics, she received the fifth highest vote count capturing the hearts of 16,922 voters. When she ran for re-election in 2018, she welcomed even more supporters receiving the second highest vote count with 20,335 votes.
Life and Education
Telena Cruz Nelson was born in Portland, Oregon, the eldest of five children. She is the daughter of Guam natives Theodore Dwight Borja Nelson and Stephanie Cruz Nelson. Her paternal grandparents are Theodore Sgambelluri Nelson, who served as Vice Speaker of the Guam Legislature, and Gloria Camacho Borja Nelson (d.) Her maternal grandparents are Jose Quitugua Cruz and Asuncion “Connie” Lazaro Cruz.
She was raised in a Roman Catholic family. Her maternal grandmother Connie was instrumental in the pilgrimage that brought Santa Maria Kamalen, Our Lady of Camarin, to the Basilica of the National Shrine
of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. Telena and her maternal grandmother are lectors at their Catholic Church.
Telena was heavily involved in sports growing up and made the island’s IIAAG All-Island basketball and soccer teams while attending Bishop Baumgartner Memorial School, Notre Dame High School, and Simon Sanchez High School. At the age of 15, she traveled with her singing group under instructor AnnaMae Borja to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City representing Guam.
Telena graduated from Simon Sanchez High School and from the University of Guam with a bachelors degree in anthropology. In 2001, she enlisted as a Combat Medic in the U.S. Army. In 2007, she entered and completed Officer Candidate School to be commissioned as an officer in the Guam Army National Guard. Later she attended Basic Officer Leader Course for advancement and in 2008 successfully completed Signal Corps Basic Officer Leader Course. She served in a combat zone in Afghanistan and deployed as a lone soldier from her Guam company between 2010 and 2011. She currently serves as a captain in the Guam Army National Guard.
Record of public service
35th Guam Legislature
Committee on Education, Air Transportation, and Statistics, Research, and Planning
Committee on Higher Education
Committee on Revenue, Taxation, and Procurement
Committee on Rules
Committee on Health, Tourism, Historic Preservation, Land, and Justice
Committee on Public Accountability, Human Resources, and the Guam Buildup
Committee on Public Safety, Border Safety, Military and Veteran Affairs, Mayors Council, Infrastructure and Public Transit
34th Guam Legislature:
Committee on Housing, Utilities, Public Safety, and Homeland Security
Committee on Rules
Committee on Culture and Justice
Committee on General Goverment Operations and Federal, Foreign, & Regional Affairs
Committee on Innovation and Economic, Work Force, and Youth Development
Nelson’s civilian experience was an educator in the Guam Department of Education. Coming from a background of educators- her parents, both grandmothers, aunts, siblings, and cousins- her calling was clear to help educate younger generations.
Her family comes from a lineage of farmers and ranchers that have produced their own food and agricultural products for means of living and reselling. Her great-great grandfather Peter Nelson was a botanist and discovered a large tree from the Serianthes family which they named after him. The Seraithes Nelsonii is known as the S. Nelsonii or hayun lagu. It was named critically endangered in 1998.
She has shown her passion for helping the community by holding multiple teaching positions over the span of several years. Senator Nelson has had the opportunity to work as a Science and Physical Education Teacher as well as hold the position of Opportunity Room and Secondary Teacher positions. Through these positions, she has been able to enrich her students’ curriculum to the national and state
standards as well as promote physical fitness in the lives of Guam’s youth. Telena is also the Vice President of Soroptimist International of Guam and an active member in the Guam Lions Harmony Organization.
here to serve
Senator Nelson signed up to serve her country and island by joining the Guam Army National Guard in 2001. She held the position of Combat Medic, where she administered emergency medical treatment to battlefield casualties, assisted with outpatient/inpatient care and treatment, and prepared blood samples for laboratory analysis between 2001 and 2007. Since then, she's also held the following positions:
·Officer in Charge, 105th Troop Command Headquarters
·Company Commander, 1671st Signal Network Support Detachment
·S6 Signal Officer, 1225TH Combat Sustainment Support Batallion, Afghanistan
·Training Officer, 105th Troop Command Headquarters
·Chief Plans and Operations Officer (CND-Team Chief)
·Company Commander, 721st Signal Company, 105th Troop Command, Guam Army National Guard
·Computer Network Defense Team Chief, 721st Signal Company, 105th Troop Command, Guam Army National Guard
Awards and Honors: