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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Insular Affairs
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Secretary Norton Names David B. Cohen as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior for Insular Affairs



For Immediate Release: April 22, 2002

Office of the Secretary
Contact: Keith Parsky : 202-208-4070
Joan Moody: 202-208-6416


Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today announced that she is naming attorney David B. Cohen as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

"David Cohen's outstanding business skills and heritage make him especially qualified to serve the special needs of U.S. islands or insular areas," Norton said. "Moreover, the Administration is upgrading this position from Director of the Office of Insular Affairs to Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior to demonstrate our strong commitment to resolving the tremendous, long-standing economic and infrastructure challenges facing the insular areas."

Cohen will be the first American of Samoan descent and only the second Pacific Islander to head the office, as well as the first elevated to Deputy Assistant Secretary. The Office of Insular Affairs is the Executive Branch's liaison organization with the four U.S. island or insular areas. These include Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa. OIA also works with the three freely associated states: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. As Deputy Assistant Secretary, Cohen will advise the Secretary on operational and administrative matters involving federal policy in the insular areas.

Cohen is currently a partner in the Corporate and Banking Department of SIDLEY AUSTIN BROWN & WOOD, based in the Los Angeles office. Over the past 15 years, at this and other firms he has represented lenders and developers in the area of project finance. His work has involved numerous infrastructure projects and international and domestic power projects. He also has represented credit enhancement and liquidity support providers for municipal bond financings. In addition, Cohen served the local Samoan, Filipino, Indian and other communities in California as an immigration attorney from 1992 to 1995. He was co-founder and sponsor of the Samoan Citizenship Drive in California from 1992-1993 and did pro bono preparation and filing of naturalization applications for Samoan immigrants.

In 2001, he was appointed by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to chair a committee charged with recommending minimum wage rates for American Samoa. He conducted hearings in Pago Pago in June 2001 and heard testimony from Governor Tauese Sunia, U.S. Representative Eni H. Fàleomavaega, officials of the Department of Labor and the Department of the Interior and representatives of local industry, commerce and labor groups.

Cohen also was appointed by President Bush in 2001 to the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a post that he will have to resign in order to assume his new position.

He is a Joint J.D.-M.B.A. graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Wharton School and holds an M.A.- B.A. in Regional Science, University of Pennsylvania College of Arts and Sciences. He also holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science, with a concentration in Transportation Engineering.

In his community in California, Cohen has served in the Rotary Club for nine years, including as chapter community service director and youth service director. He initiated an adopt-a-school program with an elementary school in Carson, California; served as volunteer-coordinator for the past eight years for the South Bay Classic, which raises well over $100,000 each year for substance abuse prevention programs in local schools; and actively participated in a number of projects in the Samoan community. The latter included assisting community, educational and church groups, among them the Pacific Islander Festival Association, the Samoan Federation of America, Ierusalema Fou Church, the Association of Pacific Island Educators, and the Sisters Alumni of the South Pacific.