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Point man for relationships with U.S. territories

By Agnes E. Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, May 13, 2008) –An aide to U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has been named to serve as the new acting deputy assistant secretary for insular affairs.

Douglas W. Domenech, who currently serves as Kempthorne's deputy chief of staff, will be the U.S. government's new point man for Washington's relationships with the territories and the freely associated states. He will serve in both capacities.

The position was held by David Cohen from 2002 until he resigned in January 2008 to join a private law firm. Nikolao Pula, the director of the U.S. Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), held the job temporarily following Cohen's resignation.

"I have full confidence in Doug, whose commitment to this Administration, management expertise, background and knowledge will be invaluable in carrying out our responsibilities for the U.S. territories and freely associated states," Kempthorne said in a statement issued announcing the appointment.

For his part, Domenech said, "I am honored to be given this assignment. This is an indication that Secretary Kempthorne cares deeply about the welfare of the insular areas and wants island issues handled directly in his immediate office."

Pula echoed Domenech's remark. "Secretary Kempthorne's appointment of Doug Domenech to Insular Affairs is indicative of the Secretary's strong interest and support of issues affecting the U.S.-affiliated areas. I know this will be welcomed by the leaders and the people of the islands.

"We are very happy to work with Doug who is a familiar face in the OIA corridor. His enthusiasm, experience and energy will be a great asset to our office as we continue forward," said Pula.

Domenech joined the Bush administration in July 2001 to serve as Interior's deputy director of external and intergovernmental affairs. From 2002 to 2006, he served as White House liaison to the Interior Department before being promoted to deputy chief of staff.

Domenech, who was born in the United States, is of Puerto Rican descent and lived in the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Puerto Rico as a child. He has a degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management from Virginia Tech and worked on national and state natural resource issues for 15 years prior to his appointment.

Among his duties at the department, Domenech represents the Secretary on the Advisory Board of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, and often travels to the U.S. Virgin Islands on Interior business. He also represents the Department on the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico Status and on the U.S. delegation to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Saipan Tribune

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