Kiaaina appointed to Interior Department post

HONOLULU (AP) - President Barack Obama has nominated Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Deputy Director Esther Kiaaina to be assistant secretary for insular affairs at the U.S. Department of Interior.

The position leads the department's efforts to coordinate federal policy for Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

It also has responsibility for administering and overseeing federal assistance to Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

The Senate must vote on the appointment.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says Kiaaina brings extensive expertise and a keen understanding of the issues facing U.S. territories and freely associated states, noting Kiaaina was born in Guam to Native Hawaiian parents.

Kiaaina previously served as former U.S. Rep. Ed Case's chief of staff and legislative assistant to former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.

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