WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden appointed the following individuals to serve in key regional leadership roles at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):
- Joy Kono, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Hawaii
- Maria Herrera, USDA State Director, Rural Development, California
- Casey Sixkiller, EPA Regional Administrator, Region 10
- Joseph Palm, HHS Regional Director, Region 7
These regional appointees will be critical to the President’s efforts to rebuild communities most impacted by the pandemic, the economic recovery, and climate change. They bring deep expertise in their issue areas as well as critical relationships with federal, state, tribal, and local leaders. And, consistent with the President’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, these regional appointees represent the diversity of America and the communities they serve.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA)
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs, and manages conservation, commodity, disaster, and farm marketing programs in each U.S. State. Its mission is to equitably serve all farmers, ranchers, and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs for all Americans. State Executive Directors oversee this work, ensuring the needs of local constituents are met and that USDA resources are distributed equitably and fairly.
USDA’s Rural Development mission area is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. State Directors lead offices that offer grants, loans, and loan guarantees to help create jobs and support economic development and essential services.
Joy Kono, USDA State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, Hawaii
Joy Kono has over 30 years of managerial and administrative experience in support programs, along with a first-hand understanding of the challenging and diverse agricultural industry of Hawaii. Kono comes from a rural community on the island of Kauai, where her family farmed a variety of vegetables and livestock, ranging from chickens, pigs, and cattle, to truck crops and leafy greens. Kono began work on the farm at 12 years old, spending her college summers working on a ranch. As a dedicated farm family on Kauai, they were awarded Hawaii Farm Bureau’s Farm Family of the Year.
Kono earned a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Economics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and then obtained a Master’s degree in Agribusiness from Santa Clara University.
Kono worked for Kamehameha Schools for the last 20 years; her current position oversees four teams that process over 30,000 applications annually for various programs. Appointed as Senior Director of Education Support Services in 2015, Kono has administered numerous programs that provides crucial support across the state of Hawaii to families and students that apply for over $30 million in aid each year. Kono is currently the board chair for the Hawaii Commission for National and Community Services and has served on the Agriculture Leadership Foundation of Hawaii Board and the Hawaii Farm Bureau Board.
Maria Herrera, USDA State Director, Rural Development, California
Maria Gallegos Herrera is a proud daughter of farmworker parents who grew up in the rural agricultural communities in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley. She joined the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019 as the Central California Deputy Regional Director of External Affairs and in July of 2021 was promoted to Central California Regional Director.
Herrera previously served as a Community Development Manager at Self-Help Enterprises, a nationally recognized community development organization dedicated to working with low-income families to build and sustain healthy communities. She previously held positions at the Community Water Center and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Throughout her career, Herrera has tackled water contamination and shortages, improved access to government, and worked to create resilient and sustainable communities through relationship building, community organizing, advocacy, legislation, and technical assistance. Herrera also served on the California Water Commission from 2015 to 2019 and was the recipient of the 2019 Rachel’s Network Inaugural Catalyst Award.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)
Regional Administrators lead the EPA’s 10 regional offices around the country, each of which is responsible for the execution of EPA programs within a set of several states and territories. EPA regional offices also ensure the views and needs of each region are incorporated into the formulation of agency and national policy.
Casey Sixkiller, EPA Regional Administrator, Region 10
Casey Sixkiller previously served as Deputy Mayor of the City of Seattle and prior to that as Chief Operating Officer of King County, overseeing the daily operations of the largest city and the largest county in Washington state, each with more than 12,000 employees and an annual budget of $6.5 billion. While at the City, Sixkiller oversaw key elements of the City’s pandemic response including support for vulnerable families, mitigating the impact of the pandemic on city services, and helping scale nation-leading testing and vaccination efforts. At King County, Sixkiller worked to embed measurable equity and social justice deliverables across departments, increase equitable access to public space and transit, and lift up the voices of BIPOC communities in decision making. Sixkiller was the founder and managing partner of Sixkiller Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based national strategic advisory, public policy, and business development firm.
Sixkiller began his career in public service in Washington, D.C., first working for then-Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) and later Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). An enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Sixkiller helped launch the Cherokee Nation’s Washington Office in 2001, serving as the Nation’s lead advocate before Congress and federal agencies. Born and raised in Seattle, Sixkiller is a graduate of Seattle Public Schools and Dartmouth College, and the proud father of Anna, Sam, and Will.
Region 10 serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (HHS)
Regional Directors lead HHS’s 10 Regional Offices that directly serve state and local organizations. Regional Directors ensure the Department maintains close contact with state, local, and tribal partners and addresses the needs of communities and individuals served through HHS programs and policies.
Joseph Palm, HHS Regional Director, Region 7
Joseph Palm is a native of Saint Louis, Missouri, with family roots in Wardell, Missouri. Palm received his Bachelors of Communications Studies and Masters in Public Health from Saint Louis University. In 2009, Palm became the Chief of the Office of Minority Health at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. As the Chief, Palm was the key advisor to the Director on various health matters that affect minorities; he also served as a liaison to the Missouri General Assembly and worked with all statewide local public health agencies and elected officials. Palm supervised the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) grant-funded opioid and homicide prevention program, and he has also advised and facilitated the creation of hundreds of mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites across the State of Missouri in uninsured and underserved communities. Palm has also worked on the ground during the Ferguson and Joplin daily recovery operations.
Palm previously worked as the Assistant to the Chief of Staff in the City of Saint Louis Mayor’s Office, as a Legislative Researcher in the Missouri State Capitol, and as an assistant to the Chief of Staff in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District Office.
Region 7 serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.