President Biden announces key regional appointments for USDA, EPA and HHS

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden appointed the following individuals to fill key regional leadership positions at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to the 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 appointments will be critical to the President’s efforts to rebuild communities hardest hit by the pandemic, economic recovery and climate change. They bring deep expertise in their areas of interest as well as critical relationships with federal, state, tribal and local leaders. And, in keeping with the president’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, these regional appointments represent the diversity of America and the communities they serve.


The USDA’s Farm Service Agency implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs, and manages conservation, commodity, disaster, and agricultural marketing programs in each U.S. state. Its mission is to serve all farmers, ranchers, and agricultural partners equitably through the delivery of effective and efficient agricultural programs for all Americans. State Executive Directors oversee this work, ensuring that the needs of local constituents are met and that USDA resources are distributed fairly and equitably.

USDA’s Rural Development Mission Area is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. State directors head offices that provide 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 management and administrative experience in support programs, as well as a first-hand understanding of Hawaii’s challenging and diverse agricultural industry. Kono comes from a rural community on the island of Kauai, where his family grew a variety of vegetables and livestock, ranging from chickens, pigs and cattle to vegetable crops and leafy greens. Kono started working on the farm at age 12, spending his college summers working on a ranch. As a dedicated Kauai farm family, they received the Farm Family of the Year award from the Hawaii Farm Bureau.

Kono earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, then a master’s degree in agribusiness from Santa Clara University.

Kono has worked for Kamehameha Schools for the past 20 years; his current position oversees four teams that process over 30,000 applications per year for various programs. Appointed Senior Director of Education Support Services in 2015, Kono has administered numerous programs that provide crucial support across the state of Hawaii to families and students seeking more than $30 million in assistance each year. year. Kono is currently Chairman of the Board of the Hawaii Commission for National and Community Service and has served on the Hawaii Agricultural Leadership Foundation Board of Directors and the Hawaii Agricultural Bureau Board of Directors. .

Maria Herrera, USDA State Director, Rural Development, California

Maria Gallegos Herrera is a proud daughter of farm worker parents who grew up in rural farming communities in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley. She joined Governor Gavin Newsom’s office in 2019 as Deputy Regional Director for External Affairs for Central California and, in July 2021, was promoted to Regional Director for Central California.

Herrera previously served as Community Development Manager at Self-Help Enterprises, a nationally recognized community development organization dedicated to working with low-income families to build and maintain 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 contamination and water shortages, improved access to government, and worked to create resilient and sustainable communities through relationship building, community organization, advocacy, legislation and technical assistance. Herrera also served on the California Water Commission from 2015-2019 and received the 2019 Rachel’s Network Inaugural Catalyst Award.


Regional administrators direct EPA’s 10 regional offices across the country, each of which is responsible for delivering EPA programs in a collection of multiple states and territories. EPA regional offices also ensure that 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 was formerly Deputy Mayor of the City of Seattle and before that Chief Operating Officer of King County, overseeing the day-to-day operations of Washington State’s largest city and largest county, 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 supporting vulnerable families, mitigating the impact of the pandemic on city services, and helping across national screening and vaccination efforts. In King County, Sixkiller has worked to embed measurable equity and social justice deliverables across all departments, increase equitable access to public spaces and transit, and raise voice the voice of BIPOC communities in decision-making. Sixkiller was the founder and managing partner of Sixkiller Consulting, a national strategic consulting, public policy and business development firm based in Washington, DC.

Sixkiller began his public service career in Washington, D.C., working first for then-Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and later for Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). A registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Sixkiller helped launch the Washington Office of the Cherokee Nation in 2001, serving as the nation’s chief 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.

Regional Directors lead the 10 regional offices of HHS that directly serve national and local organizations. Regional Directors ensure that the Department maintains close contact with state, local, and tribal partners and responds to the needs of the communities and individuals served through HHS programs and policies.

Joseph Palm, HHS Regional Director, Region 7

Joseph Palm is originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, with family roots in Wardell, Missouri. Palm earned her bachelor’s degree in communications and her master’s degree in public health from Saint Louis University. In 2009, Palm became the chief of the Minority Health Office at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. As chief, Palm was the principal adviser to the director on various health issues that affect minorities; he also served as a liaison to the Missouri General Assembly and worked with all local public health agencies and elected officials in the state. Palm oversaw the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) grant-funded Opioid and Homicide Prevention Program, and he also advised on and facilitated the establishment of hundreds of mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites around the country. State of Missouri in uninsured and underserved communities. Palm also worked in the field during daily recovery operations from Ferguson and Joplin.

Palm previously worked as the Assistant Chief of Staff for the City of Saint Louis Mayor’s Office, as a Legislative Researcher at the Missouri State Capitol, and as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District Office.

Region 7 serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.


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