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Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs makes appointments to leadership team

Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata
Sources: Office of the Congresswoman, Dept. of Interior

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata welcomed two new appointees to the leadership team for the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), as announced by the Department of Interior (DOI).

“It’s good to have a strong team on board at the Department of Interior to devote their efforts to Insular Affairs priorities,” said Congresswoman Amata. “I just want to extend a warm welcome to these administration officials as they take on this important work, and as the territories and DOI continue to work together for the needs of our people. I know that our ASG administration will make them very welcome upon any future opportunity for a visit to American Samoa.”

The DOI announced Keone Nakoa of Hawai’i as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs, and Betsy Hildebrandt of Virginia as the Senior Advisor for Insular Areas to the Assistant Secretary.

“I appreciate that Deputy Assistant Secretary Nakoa will bring the insights of Native Hawaiian life experience to island issues, along with extensive government qualifications,” continued Amata. “Senior Advisor Hildebrandt has helpful and relevant experience in Washington and I look forward to working with them both.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary Nakoa was serving as Bureau Chief in D.C. for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and has worked for Senator Daniel Akaka and the Chief Judge of the Hawai’i Intermediate Court of Appeals. He was born, raised and educated in Hawai’i.

Senior Advisor Hildebrandt has served in DOI previously, along with Capitol Hill experience, including communications and management roles.


 “The territories are an integral part of the fabric of America, and the freely associated states, while independent countries, are uniquely interwoven with the United States in terms of a shared history, ongoing partnership, and a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Keone Nakoa. “I look forward to working with the OIA team and leadership from the insular areas to fulfill our trust and insular responsibilities through efforts to strengthen economic and health capacities in the territories, fulfill Compact of Free Association obligations, and address climate resilience, conservation, and clean energy deployment.”


 “I am honored to join the Office of Insular Affairs, which has an important role to play in facilitating and upholding the federal government’s interrelationship with each of the insular areas,” said Betsy Hildebrandt. “The Biden-Harris administration has made clear its priorities to strengthen insular economies through strategic investments in environmental justice activities, clean energy deployment, and infrastructure improvement, while also restoring trust with territorial communities and ensuring sovereignty means something in supporting and working with the freely associated states.”