Executive Leadership Team

Lisa Brown, Commerce Director

Lisa Brown, Director

Lisa J. Brown, Ph.D., was appointed Commerce director by Gov. Inslee and began serving the agency in February of 2019. Lisa is a longtime resident of Spokane. Prior to serving as Commerce director, she served as chancellor of Washington State University and led the health science campus there, including the creation of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. Lisa represented the Spokane area in the state House from 1993-1996 as minority whip and minority floor leader, breaking ground as a single working mother. She then went on to the state Senate where she became the first Democratic female majority leader and served until 2013. Lisa is an economist and has taught at Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Illinois and her masters and doctoral degrees at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has worked extensively on efforts to create jobs and support working families across Washington state. Her top two priorities, in no particular order, are an equitable and sustainable economic recovery and her baby grandson, Blaze.

Read Updates from Director Lisa Brown.

Deputy Director Kendrick Stewart

Kendrick Stewart, Deputy Director

A public servant for more than 20 years, Kendrick Stewart returned to Commerce in February 2020 to lead the agency’s internal operations. He oversees Human Resources, Organizational Agility, internal communications, risk and emergency management, safety, internal audits, and diversity, equity, inclusion and respect work. His focus is on achieving and sustaining operational excellence and helping individuals and teams thrive. Kendrick has a passion for learning what motivates people, collaborative problem-solving and service. He is committed to community building and aspires to ensure all Commerce employees feel valued for who they are. He holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Colorado State University and a master’s of public administration degree from the University of Washington. Away from work, Kendrick enjoys playing basketball, listening to music, hiking, reading, and connecting with family and friends.

Mark Barkley, Assistant Director of Local Government Division

Mark Barkley, Assistant Director for the Local Government Division

Mark has been with the Department of Commerce since 2013 and currently serves as assistant director for the Local Government Division. Mark’s responsibilities include coordinating with the Public Works Board and Community and Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) He also oversees Community Development Block Grants, Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund and Growth Management Services. He has over 20 years of experience working with both state and federal contracts.After serving 25 years in the U.S. Army, Mark worked for two years at the Department of Transportation before coming to Commerce. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Seattle University and a master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University. Mark lives in Rainier with his wife and children.

Michael Furze, Assistant Director, Energy Division

Michael Furze, Assistant Director for the Energy Division

Michael Furze is an assistant director at the Washington State Department of Commerce, where he heads the State Energy Office. The office leading Washington state’s transition to a clean and just energy future through policy leadership, investing in cutting-edge clean technologies, planning and responding to energy emergencies, and expanding equitable access to clean energy. This work strengthens communities, so Washington residents can thrive in a clean, affordable and equitable energy economy. Furze also serves on the Board of the National Association of State Energy Officials. He holds a master’s degree in community and regional planning and a graduate certificate in town design from the University of New Mexico. When not focused on his energy work, Furze and his family patiently wait for the sun to occasionally emerge from behind the clouds and rain of the Pacific Northwest.

Chris Green, Assistant Director of the Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness

Chris Green, Assistant Director for the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness

Chris joined the Department of Commerce in 2015 as assistant director for the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, which includes the international trade, business recruitment/retention and rural economic development units. Chris previously served for seven years as vice president for business retention and expansion at the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County. Prior to that, he worked in government relations and was on the staff of several elected officials, including former U.S. Congressman Norm Dicks, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and U.S. Congressman Derek Kilmer. Chris earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Pacific Lutheran University and an MBA from the University of Washington. He and his wife Shannon live in Tacoma with their three children.

Diane Klontz

Diane Klontz, Assistant Director for the Community Services and Housing Division

Diane joined the Department of Commerce in 2001 and currently serves as assistant director for the Community Services and Housing Division. She began state service in 1994. Diane provides leadership for Commerce’s strategic initiatives to address the needs of vulnerable and low-income populations in communities throughout the state. Her background includes a strong and successful history in program administration, policy development, results-oriented work, and working collaboratively with staff, community partners, individuals and families across the state to strengthen communities. Diane received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Washington State University. She serves as the governor’s appointee on Serve Washington, serves on the Governor's Interagency Council on Health Disparities, serves as a member and past vice chair and chair of the Adult Education Advisory Council, serves as a commissioner on the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, and Co-Leads the Governor's Poverty Reduction Workgroup to Dismantle Poverty. Diane also previously served on the board of directors for the Washington Community Reinvestment Association She received the 2013 Governor’s Award for Leadership in Management.

Cheryl Smith

Cheryl Smith, Community Engagement and Outreach Director

Cheryl Smith is Director of Community Engagement and Outreach for the Washington State Department of Commerce, where her team helps communities address priority needs through technical assistance, navigating funding programs, and advocacy. They also launch innovative projects and policy development initiatives that advance Commerce’s mission of strengthening communities, including efforts around child care and equity. Cheryl has a long track record of leading collaborative efforts in state and local government to address complex issues and opportunities. Her experience includes local infrastructure financing, environmental protection, community planning and self-help, grant and loan programs, regulatory streamlining and several initiatives to advance equity. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Kansas State University, with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and social sciences, and a Master of Public Administration. She also holds several personal coaching certifications and considers herself a lifelong learner. Cheryl is passionate about being an ally for all. She values working with the talented team at Commerce and is inspired by people from all walks of life whose dedication makes Washington’s communities so vibrant. A Michigan transplant, Cheryl lives in Olympia with her family and has grown to love the Pacific Northwest, rain and all.

Martin McMurry

Martin McMurry, Chief Financial Officer for Administrative Services

Martin joined Commerce in 2015 and leads the Administrative Services Division, which includes accounting, budget, contracts, information technology and office services. Martin began his state career in 2001 in a temporary job delivering computer hardware to rural health clinics for the Department of Health. He has since worked in various policy and budget positions for the state, to include working for Commerce in the Housing Trust Fund back in 2006 while completing his master’s degree in public administration from Evergreen State College. Just prior to joining Commerce, Martin was a budget manager for the Employment Security Department. Martin also holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University and can usually be found on the pitch in Olympia watching his two children play soccer.

Legislative Director Jasmine Vasavada

Jasmine Vasavada, Legislative and Policy Director

Jasmine Vasavada joined Commerce in 2016 as a senior energy policy specialist and began working as Commerce's legislative director in 2018. She earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Washington and a bachelor of science degree from Harvard University. That background in science helped when she began working on state-level issues related to toxics in New Jersey. It carried forward to her work at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, where Jasmine recruited and trained a team of 60 volunteer naturalists to teach children how to observe ocean life at a new hands-on marine sciences facility. While studying law at the University of Washington, Jasmine focused on state-level policy and spent several months in Olympia with the Attorney General's Office and the Office of Program Research, the nonpartisan committee staff in the Washington State House of Representatives.

Marissa VanHoozer

Marissa Joy VanHoozer, Director of Equity and Belonging

Marissa VanHoozer (she/her) joined Commerce in January 2022 in a new equity- and belonging-focused executive position. She has spent her career advancing equity and inclusion efforts in various industries, including working with stakeholder and customer groups to ensure access to services. She’s led teams in auditing for and improving services to ensure culturally and linguistically appropriate standards are met, authored strategic equity frameworks and roadmaps, and used her subject matter expertise in organizational culture work to ensure that improvements make it to every level of an agency. She is a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, where she served as a heavy equipment operator and later graduated from the Presidio of Monterey as a cryptologic linguist specializing in Tagalog and Tausug. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Maryland Global Campus and holds a Master Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma from Villanova University. Her hobbies include chasing her 7-year-old out of the room during Zoom meetings, trying new foods, and laughing with friends and colleagues.

Headshot of Liz Rocca

Liz Rocca, Director of Communications

Liz Rocca joins Commerce from the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), where she served as Chief of Staff and Media Relations Manager. In addition to her role as a strategic and policy adviser, she managed all internal and external communications initiatives, and served as a liaison with the King County Council, Executive's Office and Office of Law Enforcement Oversight. Her leadership in external relations with key stakeholders and partners including elected officials and staff, city managers, community groups and underserved communities, was instrumental in restoring integrity and transparency to the KCSO’s communications with the news media and the public. Liz is also an award-winning journalist, with deep credentials as a reporter and newsroom manager, including with Seattle television stations KIRO, KCPQ and KOMO. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Weber State University and a Master’s from San Francisco State University, both in political science.