Executive Leadership Team
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.
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.
Assistant Director, 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.
Assistant Director, 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.
Assistant Director, Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness
Assistant Director, 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.
Policy and Planning 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.
Chief Financial Officer, 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.
Jaime Smith has nearly 20 years of communications, outreach and policy experience, much of it in state government. She recently served as Gov. Jay Inslee’s executive director of communications and external affairs where she oversaw the governor’s communications, constituent services and outreach teams. She left briefly to start her own communications firm but the COVID-19 pandemic brought her back into state government where she’s been serving as director of the state’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center at Camp Murray.
Jaime is a lifelong resident of Washington state and lives in Tacoma. She graduated from the University of Washington.
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.
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