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Schatz Congratulates Keone Nakoa And Summer Sylva On Appointments To Interior Department

Hawai‘i’s Nakoa and Sylva To Serve In Roles Advising On Insular and Native Hawaiian Affairs

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, released the following statement congratulating Keone Nakoa and Summer Sylva on their appointments to serve at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“I congratulate Keone Nakoa and Summer Sylva on their historic appointments to the Interior Department,” said Chairman Schatz. “Their unique perspectives and qualifications will strengthen the Department’s work to honor and advance America’s relationships and trust responsibilities with Native communities in Hawai‘i and across the country. I look forward working with them both.”

Keone Nakoa will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs. Nakoa joins Interior from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs where he worked with Congress and federal agencies as the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief. Keone previously served as speechwriter for the late Senator Daniel Akaka, clerk for the Chief Judge of the Hawai‘i Intermediate Court of Appeals and as a lawyer at a private firm in Honolulu. He holds J.D. and MBA degrees from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and a bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology from Harvard University. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, he is part Native Hawaiian and lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Stephanie.

Summer Sylva will serve as Senior Advisor for Native Hawaiian Affairs. Sylva is a Native Hawaiian attorney from Waimanalo, who most recently served as the executive director of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC). Sylva joins Interior with more than a decade of experience litigating before federal and state courts in Hawaiʻi, New York, and New Jersey. During her tenure at NHLC, she led litigation efforts on Native Hawaiian rights issues, including water rights, state and federal government entitlement programs, public trust and historic native land claims. Summer holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Barnard College-Columbia University and a J.D. from Cornell Law School.