President Barack Obama has nominated Esther Puakela Kia’aina of Hawaii to fill the post of assistant secretary for insular affairs at the Department of Interior, according to a statement released Wednesday from Delegate Donna M. Christensen.
The Office of Insular Affairs coordinates federal policy for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and assistance to the autonomous, affiliated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau.
In her statement, Christensen said she was "pleased that Esther Kia’aina has been tapped to hold this important post for the territories.”
“I worked with her when she led former Guam Delegate Robert Underwood’s congressional office and I am confident that she knows the territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands,” she said. “We are lucky to have her fill this post," she added.
Kia’aina currently holds the position of first deputy director of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources for the State of Hawaii. She has served as chief advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and was a land asset manager for the Kamehameha Schools Land Asset Division. She has served as chief of staff for Congressmen Ed Case and Robert Underwood and as legislative assistant for Sen. Daniel Akaka. She has a B.A. from the University of Southern California and a J.D. for the George Washington University Law School.