The U.S. Senate confirmed Esther Kia’aina in a unanimous voice vote Thursday to serve as assistant secretary of insular affairs at the Department of the Interior.
“The Senate’s overwhelming support for Esther’s nomination speaks to her strong qualifications to serve as DOI Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs,” U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said. “I have no doubt she will serve with distinction and make Hawaii proud.”
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz also praised Kia’aina, and said, “President Obama recognized a tremendous individual for this important post.”
Kia’aina was first deputy director for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources when she was nominated for the federal post.
A former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Ed Case, she later worked as a land asset manager for Kamehameha Schools and as chief advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
“Born in Guam to Native Hawaiian parents, Esther has strong connections to Pacific islands and extensive experience on Capitol Hill,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement. “She will be a valuable asset to this Department as we work with island leaders, the White House Interagency Group on Insular Areas, and partners across the federal government to further the islands’ social and economic progress.”