Remembering Karen Lane Rahm – Statement from Mike Fong

Commerce Director Mike Fong issued the following statement on the recent passing of Karen Lane Rahm:

On behalf of all of our current and former Department of Commerce team members, I share condolences to the family, and many friends and colleagues of Karen Lane Rahm on her recent passing.

Photo of Karen Lane, Pat Dunn and Gov. John Spellman

(l-r) Karen Lane with Pat Dunn and former Governor John Spellman.

Karen led our precursor agency, known as the State Planning and Community Development Agency, prior to being appointed Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services by Gov. John Spellman in 1983. She was instrumental in establishing the Public Works Trust Fund and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission during her tenure.

Pat Dunn, who succeeded Karen as agency director, credits Karen as “the architect of the ‘new’ Commerce we know today.” In addition to her leadership on infrastructure and housing, Dunn also remembers her as “a wonderful boss and inspiration to a whole generation of state agency professionals.”

Starting her career as an economist, Karen also led the Seattle Department of Community Development. Her legacy of leadership, public service and philanthropy exemplifies a truth and mission that we at Commerce hold to this day: strong, vibrant communities are the foundation for a strong, equitable economy that uplifts and serves all residents.

More information on Karen’s many accomplishments and remembrances are found here: Karen Lane Obituary – Lynnwood, WA (

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