Esther Kia'aina

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Esther Kia'aina, Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, U.S. Department of the InteriorWhite House Communications

Esther Kia’aina, 52

Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, U.S. Department of the Interior

Hometown: Nanakuli, Hawaii

How did you get here?

I was sitting in my office in Hawaii and received a call from the White House Office of Personnel in 2013. I was asked to consider applying for the position given my experience of working with the U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States of Micronesia on Capitol Hill, both in the U. Senate and the House of Representatives, and my expertise on the issues.

Who or what has been the greatest influence on your career?

My father – Melvin Leialoha Kiaaina, who instilled in me core values (respect for all people, fairness, hard work, sacrifice, and faith) that have guided me throughout my whole life, including my career.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment during the Obama administration?

Advancing the discussion of self-determination in the U.S. territories still on the United Nations List of Non-Self-Governing Territories – Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Can you describe your time working for the Obama administration in 10 words?

It has been a rewarding and rock and rolling experience.

Complete the sentence: “When I’m not working, I…”

I chill.

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