Lisa Brown, Commerce DirectorLisa J. Brown, Ph.D., was appointed Commerce director by Gov. Inslee and began serving the agency in February of 2019.
Prior to serving as Commerce director, she served as chancellor of Washington State University, where she led the health science campus in Spokane.
Lisa served in the Washington State Legislature from 1996 – 2013 in the Senate where she was majority leader and chaired the Rules Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and Energy, Technology and Telecommunications Committee. She served in the state House of Representatives from 1993 – 1996, where she was minority whip and minority floor leader.
She has worked extensively on economic development in Eastern Washington and on gender equity.
Prior to state office, she was an associate professor of economics at Eastern Washington University and an associate professor of leadership at Gonzaga University.
Lisa earned her bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Illinois and her master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Strengthening Communities by Building Infrastructure

As a trusted partner with stakeholders and other state agencies, Commerce has taken on and launched new capital programs including Early Learning Facilities, Behavioral Health Facilities and Rural Broadband.  We’ve managed the Public Works Trust Fund through rocky times, coming through with successful legislation that provides a broader perspective on funding opportunities and coordination with sister infrastructure agencies.  Since January 2013, we have invested over $1.5 billion for capital projects

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Strengthening Communities Through Community Service

Commerce formed and stood up the Statewide Re-Entry Council to help men and women successfully reenter our communities and workforce following incarceration.  The council has already notched legislative successes by assisting in passage of fair chance housing and income discrimination laws. In response to federal funding, we dramatically expanded the state’s crime victims advocacy work.  The Office of Crime Victims Advocacy took advantage of a 400 percent increase in federal

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Strengthening Communities by Building Resilient Communities

I believe that Gov. Inslee’s declaration – just weeks into taking office – that the state budget would no longer be balanced on the back of social services, is the single the most important step in helping Washingtonians who are experiencing homelessness. As homelessness and housing affordability overtook job creation as the most pressing needs facing our communities, Commerce worked hard to address these challenges. We moved new and existing

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Strengthening Communities by Growing the Economy and Promoting Washington

When Gov. Inslee took office, we were still wondering whether we had hit the bottom to the Great Recession, so job creation was job one.  From January 2013 until today: Washington ranked #1 for personal income growth #1 Fastest growing economy (GDP) Over 500,000 net new jobs created in the state Our work began with rebuilding the state economic development system by reestablishing trust with counties, cities and our associate

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Parting thoughts on six amazing years at Commerce

Last week I announced my plans to step down as director of the Department of Commerce on January 15, 2019. It has been my honor to serve on Governor Inslee’s cabinet and to lead an amazing agency filled with passionate public servants dedicated to serving Washington’s communities. As I shared with the governor and my colleagues, I have very mixed emotions about departing Commerce. I am proud of our agency’s

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Agency Director Brian Bonlender

Washington Commerce Director Bonlender announces planned departure

Bonlender’s tenure includes rebuilding state’s economic development apparatus, launching new ways to fight homelessness, establishing new capital programs in energy, mental health and early learning. Olympia, WA – Brian Bonlender today announced his planned departure as director of the Washington Department of Commerce. He has been in the position since Feb. 1, 2013, and his last day with Commerce will be Jan. 15, 2019. Bonlender, 48, said that while the

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Weatherization Plus Health

Delivering energy savings and health benefits to low-income communities

Commerce’s Low-Income Weatherization Assistance program has helped struggling families around the state for 39 years. As available funding continues to lag the significant need for help in keeping housing for low-income Washingtonians affordable, energy efficient and healthy, we’re experimenting with new ways to attack the most pressing problems. One vexing problem is a “catch-22” issue: many low-income houses, particularly in rural areas, are not eligible for some existing weatherization assistance

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Delridge Neighborhood Development Association, Unity Village in White Center Project serving low income families since 2012.

Affordable Housing Solutions

News this month of housing prices and rents beginning to stabilize or even soften is welcome, given the overheated markets that had priced out many potential homeowners. Even so, there’s still a long way to go when we look at affordable housing for opportunities for workers in lower wage groups and people on fixed incomes. Options for adequate housing, let alone home ownership, for many remain few and far between

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Christopher Poulos at UW Computer Science lab

Virtual reality helps prepare people for reentry after incarceration

Christopher Poulos marked his first year as executive director of Gov. Inslee’s Statewide Reentry Council this month. Poulos recently visited the Paul. G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, where an innovative program is using virtual reality to help individuals prepare for new lives outside of incarceration. Poulos, an attorney and celebrated advocate for criminal justice reforms, was himself formerly incarcerated. Learn more about the Statewide Reentry Council’s

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Chris Green in Shanghai

Update on trade news from around the world

Chris Green, head of Commerce’s Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, attended the China International Import Summit in Shanghai earlier this month. We continue to address intellectual property and other challenges while also working to maintain and grow international relationships that are so vital to our state’s economy, even as more uncertainty emerges from the Trump administration. Here’s an update on recent trade news stories from around the world: The

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Finding ways to be more efficient, increase housing supply

Remarks by Washington State Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender, as prepared for the Housing Washington Conference, Oct. 3, 2018. I’m Brian Bonlender, Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. I’m delighted to join you this afternoon and have the opportunity to hear from Chris Herbert. Before we kick off, I’d like to take just a few minutes to share an update from our agency. This was a banner

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Vietnam-Washignton trade relations summit

Vietnam-Washington State Trade and Investment Summit hosted in Renton

Our state economy is deeply engaged in trade in Asia – Pacific Rim markets. Vietnam ranked 10th for imports to Washington, led by apparel and footwear, while it is just 32nd as an export market for Washington goods such as aircraft and agricultural commodities. Commerce was pleased to join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Seattle Chamber, Hanoi Promotion Agency and Vietnam Software and IT Service Association in co-organizing an investment summit

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