Kilili was born on the island of Saipan on January 19, 1955. He is one of seven children, and grew up in a large extended family in which some people worked in the private sector, some were in public service, and others lived off the land and the ocean.
At the age of 11, Kilili moved to Chuuk, in the Federated States of Micronesia, to attend Xavier High School, the first high school in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Being the only Chamorro boarding student at the school at the time, Kilili learned early in life the skills necessary to adapt to different people in different environments and situations. Kilili finished high school in Saipan, at Marianas High School, hitchhiking his way to and from school, and graduating in a class three years above his age group.
Kilili attended the University of Guam before continuing his college studies in Berkeley, California. A family crisis brought Kilili home before his studies were complete. It was during this time that Kilili made the decision to go into public office.
Kilili began serving in the administration for the Marianas’ first governor, Governor Carlos S. Camacho, and soon after was elected to the 3rd Commonwealth Legislature. During his legislative term, Kilili was appointed as a special representative to “702 talks” about financial assistance for the NMI. 702 talks are named for the section of the Covenant which obligates the United States to provide financial assistance to the NMI, and during these talks Kilili and his colleagues successfully negotiated millions of dollars in federal assistance in a rare “front-end load” arrangement that secured immediate funding for the Commonwealth.
After two legislative terms, Kilili came to Washington, D.C. as an appointed Special Assistant to United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI). Kilili later returned to Saipan and served in two subsequent gubernatorial administrations – those of Froilan C. Tenorio and Pedro P. Tenorio – before he was appointed to be Executive Director of the Commonwealth Election Commission, a position he held until resigning to run for the Congressional seat he now holds.
Kilili is married to Andrea Sablan, and has six children.