SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert has named Claudia Nakano the director of the newly restructured Office of Ethnic Affairs.

The office now includes a multicultural commission created by the governor last month to address joblessness and other issues among members of the state's ethnic communities.

Herbert praised Nakano's "solid understanding of Utah's growing and diverse ethnic community, as well as her energy to engage all partners in addressing critical issues" and said he is "truly excited about our opportunities for collaboration and dialog across ethnicities and through barriers."

Nakano had served as public information officer for the Utah Department of Community and Culture for the past six years. She has also served on the Asian Advisory Council, the Japanese-American Citizens League and the Salt Lake County Council on Diversity Affairs.

She said she is looking forward to working with the new commission, restructured as a result of budget cuts made by the 2011 Legislature.

"We have a unique and historic opportunity," Nakano said, "to solidify meaningful partnerships and address the issues that challenge our ethnic community."