Dr. Lisa Brown confirmed as Washington Commerce Director

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed the former senate majority leader and chancellor of WSU Spokane to top post at Department of Commerce in January.

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington state Senate today confirmed the appointment of Dr. Lisa Brown to lead the Department of Commerce. Brown was appointed to the position by Gov. Jay Inslee at the end of January, succeeding Brian Bonlender in the job.

“I appreciate Lisa being part of our effort to grow our economy and help every Washingtonian have an opportunity to be part of our success,” Inslee said. “And I appreciate Senate leaders for acting quickly to confirm her appointment.”

Lisa Brown confirmed in Senate

Dr. Lisa Brown looks on with husband Brian McClatchey as the Washington state Senate voted to confirm Lisa as director of the Washington Department of Commerce March 29.

“Commerce is unique among state agencies in the diversity and reach of our programs and services, spanning nearly every aspect of community and economic development,” Brown said. “I’m pleased to have this opportunity to lead an outstanding Commerce team and join our many public and private partners to address some of the state’s most pressing challenges, including homelessness, infrastructure and workforce development.”

Brown represented the 3rd Legislative District in Spokane. First elected in 1994, she served two terms in the House. She then won a Senate seat in 1996 and served until 2013. In 2005, she became the first Democratic woman in state history to hold the position of Senate Majority Leader.

Prior to and during her service in Washington’s Legislature, Brown was an Associate Professor at Gonzaga University for 11 years and served as Chancellor of Washington State University, Spokane, from January 2013 to August 2017, where she was instrumental in the launch of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. She was also an associate professor of economics at Eastern Washington University.

Brown said some of her immediate priorities include helping address the sustainability of infrastructure financing programs and enhancing the agency’s outreach activities – especially with rural and underserved areas – to ensure Commerce programs and services are accessed by the communities that need them.

“Washington has multiple regional economies, each with its own set of challenges and opportunities for growth and job creation. In collaboration with local governments, ADOs, colleges and universities, community-based organizations and the business community, I look forward to continuing Commerce’s work to strengthen communities throughout the state.”

Brown graduated with a B.A. in economics from the University of Illinois and went to earn a masters and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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