Meet Our Economic Development Team

To strengthen communities and create living wage jobs statewide, the Washington State Department of Commerce offers businesses, entrepreneurs and investors, especially those in rural and underserved communities, an impressive array of consulting and support services, most of which are free.

The Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness (OEDC) is committed to providing businesses large and small with the specific solutions they need, wherever they are in the lifecycle, from conceptualization to an exit strategy.

To assist you, we offer a seasoned team of business professionals and adaptive programs and services that help you build your business, increase sales, enter new markets, find new partners and hire and train more workers. 

Executive Team

Mike Fong – Commerce Director

Mike Fong (he/him) has more than two decades of experience in the public sector at the city, county and national level, leading people and managing complex policy priorities. Prior to being appointed Commerce Director by Gov. Jay Inslee, he served as Pacific Northwest regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Fong’s past leadership roles include serving as senior deputy mayor of Seattle where he led policy development to provide funding for two years of free community college for public high school graduates. Fong is committed to supporting Commerce’s mission of strengthening communities and growing economic opportunity in every corner of the state. He has been honored with the International Examiner’s Community Voice award for excellence in civic leadership, and continues to do volunteer work in his community. Fong serves on the Board of the WA State Ballpark Public Facilities District overseeing T-Mobile Park (home of the Seattle Mariners) and spent several years coaching youth basketball for the Seattle Chinese Athletic Association. A native of Spokane, he received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Washington. He speaks Cantonese fluently.

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

Before joining Commerce, Chris served as Vice President for Business Retention and Expansion for the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, a private, non-profit organization focused on recruiting and retaining businesses in Pierce County. While working at the EDB, Chris worked with hundreds of firms helping them to identify tax incentives, workforce training options, financing packages and a variety of other resources to help them grow and create jobs. Chris also served as the current Co-Chair of the Tacoma-Pierce Aerospace Partners, a group focused on growing and improving the local aerospace industry. Prior to his work at the EDB, Chris worked in government relations and also worked on the staff of several elected officials, including former Congressman Norm Dicks, current Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and current Congressman Derek Kilmer.

Keith Swenson – Deputy Assistant Director, Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness

Keith joins Commerce from the Governor’s office where he served the past seven years with the Executive Operations team, with his last position being the Director of Boards and Commissions. In this role, he managed executive priorities through key stakeholder engagement, outreach and operational support to statewide boards and commissions. Keith’s private sector background is in the construction industry with experience in federal contracting, residential and commercial building.

Mary Ferguson – Operations Manager

Mary Ferguson is the Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness Operations Manager. Mary brings nine years of public sector experience with Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, with five of those years as the statewide Budget and Administrative Manager for the Division of Public Assistance. Before moving back to her hometown in 2011, Mary lived in Juneau, Alaska for 18 years.

Business Development

Radi Simeonova – Managing Director

As Managing Director for Business Development, Radi brings extensive experience in recruitment, sales, and business development to the team, particularly in the manufacturing industry. Born and raised in Bulgaria, Radi earned a B.A. in Journalism from Sofia University and relocated to the U.S. to pursue her Master’s degrees in Communications and Business Administration (MBA) from the University of New Mexico. Prior to joining the business development team, Radi worked for a clean tech manufacturing company for seven years as business development manager on international projects, serving as the lead for Eastern Europe, Asia and Pacific Rim. She most recently served as a college recruitment manager for a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based arts university, recruiting throughout Central and South America.

Harry Birak – Business Development Manager

Harry earned his bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a minor in German at the University of Idaho in 2014. During this undergraduate program, He had the opportunity to live abroad and study in Germany for a year and was accepted into a Master’s program at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Erfurt. Harry graduated from the school with a Master’s in Public Policy with a specialization in Management and Conflict Studies. Before joining Commerce to focus on business recruitment, retention, and expansion in life science, maritime, value-added agriculture, and manufacturing, he worked with a non-profit economic development organization in Spokane. Harry enjoys spending time with his two Labradors, “Bean and Griffey”, along with exploring all the wonderful spots in the Pacific Northwest.

Diana Cazac – Business Development Manager

Diana brings an extensive background in government administration, project management and public finance. Earned her bachelor’s degree in Finance at the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova (AESM) and Master’s Degree in Economic Sciences with a specialization in Public Finance and Taxation at the Master School of Excellence in Economics & Business of Moldova. Diana also completed her Ph.D. program in Public Finance at the Doctoral School of AESM. Prior to joining Commerce, Diana worked for the Government of Moldova in several positions: as a senior consultant in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Moldova, executive consultant at the Parliament and Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Moldova. Relocating to the U.S. with her family in 2019, she started a new chapter in her career at the Washington State Department of Social Health and Services. She most recently served as an Administrative Lead at King County Public Health, providing high-level administrative support and managing special projects for Mobile Medical Program. Diana speaks Romanian, Russian, French and English, and she loves to read, hike and explore Washington with her family and attend state wrestling tournaments.

Kirk Esmond – Sustainable Business Development Manager

As Sustainable Business Development Manager, Kirk is focused on attracting innovative businesses seeking to turn curbside recycled materials and industrial waste into new products as part of the state’s circular economy. He also works on new projects for the state, including the Recycling Development Center and industrial symbiosis. Kirk brings more than 20 years of professional experience in management, marketing and communications to OEDC. For the past 11 years, Kirk has provided business development and strategic planning services to a select group of clients. As a management and marketing consultant, he has delivered both project-based and long-term growth strategies for small to mid-size companies and nonprofits. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University and enjoys triathlons, Nordic skiing and cycling along with adventures with his wife and kids.

Daniel Tappana – Aerospace Business Development Manager

As Aerospace Business Development Manager for Commerce, Daniel crafts and deploys the agency’s aerospace business development strategy to increase and enhance business recruitment, investment, expansion and retention in the state’s aerospace cluster. Prior to joining the team, Daniel served as a Regional Engagement Project Manager for the State of Missouri’s Department of Economic Development where he covered the greater St. Louis metropolitan area and facilitated business expansion, retention and attraction activities across a variety of sectors. He also guided community development projects and was the regional team’s workforce development liaison. Daniel graduated from the University of Missouri (Mizzou) in 2014 with an undergraduate degree in marketing and completed his MBA from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in the summer of 2022. In his free time, Daniel enjoys sports (especially baseball), live music, and going on adventures with his rescue dog Billie.

Small Business Export Assistance

Isabelle DeWulf – Managing Director

As Managing Director of Commerce’s Small Business Export Assistance division (SBEA), Isabelle is responsible for developing and managing Washington State’s export promotion initiatives and international trade development services supporting small and medium-sized businesses throughout the state. Before joining Commerce’s Export Assistance team, Isabelle managed and developed the French-American Chamber of Commerce – Dallas/Fort Worth, whose mission is to promote trade and investment between France and North Texas. Isabelle acted as a liaison for the French-American business community, government agencies, trade and community-based organizations. The SBEA team assists Washington companies enter or expand their business capacity into foreign markets, diversifying and growing the state’s economy, preserving the state’s global competitiveness, resulting in jobs retention and creation, and strengthening communities throughout the state.

Joanna Boatwright – Aerospace International Trade Specialist

Before joining Commerce Joanna worked for several Boeing suppliers, including Orion Industries, Three Sigma Manufacturing and Pegasus Northwest, as well as non-profit aerospace organizations such as the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA), and the British American Business Council (BABC-PNW). Joanna brings a strong knowledge of Washington State’s aerospace industry sector and extensive connections within the aerospace supply chain to her role in Commerce, as well as her expertise in business development, project management and marketing. In addition, Joanna’s has extensive experience planning both in person and virtual events for regional and global audiences and connecting Washington and international businesses.

Karl Dahlgren – Life Science/Global Health International Trade Specialist

Before joining Commerce, Karl was based in Santiago, Chile, serving as a freelance consultant for an international trade consulting firm on various projects in the Americas since 2009.  During the same period, he started importing cellphone charging kiosks from the U.S., sourced and founded his own coffee brand, and was granted a utility patent by the USPTO.  As a freelance consultant, Karl assisted companies in entering South American markets (and vice versa), generated market reports and regulatory requirements updates, and worked on projects in the medical equipment, mining, gas and oil, and electric mobility sectors. Before moving to Chile, he was a global commodity broker (precious metals, urea, manganese, soy and coffee beans) based in Portland, Oregon. Karl is tri-lingual (English, Spanish, and Portuguese).

Tammy Deets – Clean Technology, Advanced Manufacturing & Maritime Manager

Tammy has a broad range of experience in the private and public sectors and brings her strong business development, marketing and sales experience as well as her knowledge of the clean tech, advanced manufacturing, forest products, and maritime industry sectors to the team. Tammy’s experience includes starting up an international business firm in Hong Kong to co-founding a non-profit organization promoting clean energy in Washington State. Throughout her career Tammy worked with entrepreneurs, C-Suite executives, elected officials and civic leaders. As a member of OEDC’s Business Development Unit, Tammy was involved in business recruitment, expansion and retention throughout the state. Tammy will now have the opportunity to assist small businesses enter and expand into foreign markets and leverage the strong connections she developed with ADOS, trade organizations and global businesses.

Nicole Gunkle Special Projects Manager

As Special Projects Manager, Nicole manages Commerce’s STEP Export Voucher Program and other projects as assigned. Before joining the Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness, she served as the International Export Grant Manager for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Nicole has a strong background in international trade, grant management, communications, marketing and events management. As Export Grant Manager, she project-managed large government contracts, supported the development of U.S. company operations abroad, developed and fostered collaboration between business and government entities, and led outreach and engagement initiatives for program awareness.

Callum Cleary – STEP Voucher Program Manager

Callum has strong experience in international trade analysis, import-export policy compliance and enforcement research. Before joining Commerce’s Export Assistance team to manage Commerce’s STEP Export Voucher Program, he worked for a law firm focused on trade remedy litigation, serving as an International Trade Specialist. In this role, Callum managed trade policy research and advocacy projects on behalf of domestic manufacturers, trade unions, trade associations and consumers. He worked closely with U.S federal regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Customs and Border Protection and the International Trade Commission. In addition, Callum has been involved in several community development projects through HelpAge USA, an international nonprofit concentrated on population aging; Open School, an equity-driven nonprofit high school; and the Seattle Farmers Market Association (SFMA).

Julie Monahan Information & Communication Technology Development Manager

Julie has spent a career supporting the growth and success of small businesses. As a business journalist, Julie covered the banking and technology industry, interviewed Fortune 500 CEOs, and was a long-time contributor to Entrepreneur magazine, the leading publication devoted to small business development. Her commitment to entrepreneurship now spurs her work to connect Washington State tech companies with global opportunities at international trade shows and with inbound trade and business delegations from around the world. Julie was part of the original team that launched the U.S. Small Business Administration’s STEP program in Washington State in 2011, with responsibility for outreach and communications and the Export Voucher program.

Small Business Training & Education

Robb ZerrSenior Managing Director

A Washington native, Robb has been a communications and marketing professional and business consultant since 1981, working with a prestigious roster of national and international clients in technology, healthcare, retail, consulting, education, tourism and manufacturing. An award-winning writer and consultant, he has worked extensively in the areas of strategic communication planning, branding, marketing, storytelling, social media, copywriting, web design and crisis management. He has also worked closely with entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses all over the world and started several successful enterprises of his own. In his spare time, Robb is a tortured novelist, professional entertainer and a wishful world traveler, deciding at one time to visit an entire alphabet of tropical islands (having made it to A, B, C, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, V and W so far). He graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in journalism. Before joining the Department of Commerce, he served as Mister Know-It-All at CommuniCreations and CEO of

Lynn Longan – Manager, Rural & Small Business Team

Born and raised in rural Washington State, Lynn’s introduction to economic development was in family-owned and operated businesses such as logging, road construction, tree farming and shellfish farming. Lynn brings 20 years of economic development experience to our team. After working for the Department of Commerce in the Economic Development Division for 16 years, she accepted the role of Executive Director of the Economic Development Council in Mason County. Returning to Commerce, Lynn serves as the agency expert responsible for setting the agenda for the state’s economic development strategies for rural and underserved communities. She is responsible for developing and overseeing entrepreneur and small business training and education programs such as ScaleUp, Thrive!, Global Entrepreneurship Month and other technical assistance, education and training programs and services for entrepreneurs and small businesses, particularly those in rural and underserved communities.

Susan Herr, Small Business Program Manager, Eastern Washington

Susan’s career in state government began in 2005 in the Department of Financial Institutions. Two years later, she moved to the Washington State Lottery and served as the Assistant Regional Manager for the Federal Way region and most recently as an Account Representative in Eastern Washington. Susan has owned and operated her own businesses as a retail state entrepreneur and as the owner of an upscale women’s clothing boutique. As Commerce’s Small Business Program Manager for Eastern Washington, Susan will work closely with small businesses, helping them navigate all phases of the lifecycle, from startup to exit strategy. She has degrees in Marketing and Commercial Art and is working on completing her BA. Susan has been a big supporter of Washington’s Combined Fund Drive, serving in multiple roles with the charitable fund. In her spare time, Susan raises Heritage hogs on her 10-acre hobby farm.

Chris Wills, Small Business Program Manager

Chris graduated from the University of Idaho with a Bachelor of Science in Resource, Recreation, and Tourism and minored in Business.  Professionally, he has worked for the Department of Natural Resources in their forestry, fire, and aquatic leasing programs; the Port of Longview as their Environmental Manager; and as an entrepreneur he has started and subsequently sold a vending business and small taproom/restaurant.  Recently Chris has focused on land purchase, disposal and development within northeast and southwest Washington.

Business & Vistor Attraction

Robb ZerrSenior Managing Director

A Washington native, Robb has been a communications and marketing professional and business consultant since 1981, working with a prestigious roster of national and international clients in technology, healthcare, retail, consulting, education, tourism and manufacturing. An award-winning writer and consultant, he has worked extensively in the areas of strategic communication planning, branding, marketing, storytelling, social media, copywriting, web design and crisis management. He has also worked closely with entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses all over the world and started several successful enterprises of his own. In his spare time, Robb is a tortured novelist, professional entertainer and a wishful world traveler, deciding at one time to visit an entire alphabet of tropical islands (having made it to A, B, C, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, V and W so far). He graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in journalism. Before joining the Department of Commerce, he served as Mister Know-It-All at CommuniCreations and CEO of

Alex Harper – Brand & Creative Manager

Alex directs all the digital communications for the Choose Washington brand, including serving as webmaster for several Commerce websites. Before joining our team, Alex served as Advertising Creative Manager for McClatchy Company, overseeing creative and branding standards, managing the creative team and working with internal and external clients on an array of award-winning projects. He has extensive experience managing complex campaigns as well as maximizing the effectiveness of digital assets, including website design, construction and management, information design and analytics. Alex is also a whiz in the graphics department, serving as the go-to guy for ongoing design projects related to the brand. In his spare time, he likes to have his four dogs take him for a walk and engage in amazing creative pursuits that dazzle and mystify his coworkers.

Molly Jay – Web & Content Manager

Molly has served in communication leadership roles at Amazon, Microsoft, Politico and the University of Washington where she won the Distinguished Staff Award for standing up multiple proprietary communication platforms in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Molly is a graduate of the University of Kansas and Temple University, a source of great angst during March Madness.

Small Business Finance & Community Support

Linda WomackManaging Director

Prior to Commerce, Linda served as the Director of the (MBDA) Minority Business Development Agency – Washington Business Center operated by the City of Tacoma’s Community and Economic Development Department, under a cooperative agreement with U.S.  Department of Commerce.  As the MBDA director from 2016 to 2022, she has been responsible for targeting minority-owned enterprises with technical and strategic business consulting to increase their capacity to create and retain jobs.  Under Linda’s leadership, minority-owned businesses in the region secured over $290 million in contracting and financing opportunities. The Washington Business Center was recognized by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo as operating one of the best performing business center in the country serving under-resourced business communities.  Prior to her role as the business center director, Linda operated a boutique Korean interpretation/translation firm specializing in cultural brokering, business contracts, and medical interpretations.  Prior to opening her firm in 2015, she spent 12 years in Asia working as a go-to-market and global marketing strategist with Samsung, AIG International, and the Korean Tourism Organization’s international convention team to increase their presence and to attract foreign direct investments globally. Linda received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington and holds an MBA from the Helsinki School of Economics (Aalto University School of Business).

Lynn Fetch, Small Business Finance Manager

Lynn has worked in state government since 2009 and came to the Department of Commerce at the end of 2016 from the Liquor and Cannabis Board where she supervised a statewide Federal Inspection Tobacco Enforcement team for the Food and Drug Administration. Lynn serves as Program Manager for the Regulatory Roadmap project, an effort geared towards streamlining access to regulatory requirements within different business sectors. Prior to state government, she worked a variety of jobs in the private sector spanning across the hospitality and real estate industries. Lynn has an extensive background managing operations for program and project launches, supervising teams, developing work plans and identifying strategic direction, tracking budgets and contracts, and earned her MBA from Western Governors University.

Rachel Paris, Program & Contract Manager

Rachel has worked in state government since 2004 and came to the Department of Commerce at the beginning of September 2023 from the Department of Health where she worked with Environmental Health Legislation, Vital Statistics, and over the last ten years in Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response as a Contracts and Finance Specialist and as an Emergency Response Type III team member. Rachel works as a Program and Contract Manager for the Small Business Finance & Community Support Unit. Prior to state government service, she worked in the banking industry. Rachel has an extensive background in working with federally funded grant contract administration, constituent relations, and working within an incident command structure for emergency management needs.

Shiloh Penland, Small Business Finance & Progam Manager

Shiloh joined the Department of Commerce in 2023 after having worked for the Employment Security Department for two years.  At ESD, she managed WorkSource Skagit as well as Economic Mobility Programs and contracts such as Basic Food Employment and Training, WorkFirst, and Strategies for Success.  Prior to working at ESD, Shiloh spent 15 years working in Higher Education, supporting and managing federal academic grant programs.  She has also been a small business owner for 6 years.  Shiloh earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English from Washington State University and a Master’s degree in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University.

Sector Leads

Carolyn Busch – Workforce Innovation Director & Industry Sector Program Coordinator

Carolyn’s career in public policy spans more than 30 years. Before joining Commerce, she served as the Special Projects Manager for King County’s Department of Human Resources in the Director’s Office and as Chief of Staff for the King County Council. Formerly, Carolyn worked for the state Senate Democratic Caucus initially as the Policy Analyst for budget and taxes and, later, as Chief of Staff.  Her other policy work includes higher education policy at the University of Washington, as well as advising both Governors Gardner and Locke on K12 and higher education policy.  Born and raised in Seattle, Carolyn earned her Bachelors in Political Science and Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington. Her family includes her son, Wyatt, and two unruly dogs, Chuck and Betty.  She loves to be a mom and an aunt, as well as cook, hike, cross country ski and bike.

Alison Beason – Life Science Sector Lead

Alison has spent her career working on data and equity initiatives in the local area as well as more than a decade of work in Washington DC at the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on issues such as science policy, retention and recruitment of underrepresented minority, women, and disadvantaged scientists in STEM, strategic planning and budget recommendations. Most recently she was with the Port of Seattle, serving as EDI Senior Data & Policy Analyst in the port’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Stephanie Bowman – Maritime Sector Lead

As Maritime Sector Lead, Stephanie is responsible for developing and implementing state policies that support the sustainability and expansion of the maritime industry in Washington. She works closely with the breadth of maritime businesses, supporting international trade and shipping, Washington state export businesses, the commercial fishing industry and recreational boating. Before joining Commerce, Stephanie served for eight years as a commissioner for the Port of Seattle where she led the effort to combine the marine cargo operations of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, into the NW Seaport Alliance. Prior to her elected public service, Stephanie worked on federal port, international trade and transportation policy in Washington D.C., and for more than 15 years on regional and state economic development issues. Stephanie has an MBA in Executive Leadership from Seattle University, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Idaho, and was honored with a Marshall Memorial Fellowship in 2007. environmental monitoring and assessment for agency decision making. 

Shannon Halberstadt  – Creative Economy Sector Lead

As Creative Economy Sector Lead, Shannon cultivates partnerships and policy to grow creative businesses and jobs in Washington State. Shannon brings decades of experience supporting Washington State’s creative workers and creative businesses, including leadership roles with Artist Trust, Spokane Arts, The Recording Academy (GRAMMY’s), and The Vera Project. She’s sat on numerous Boards and Commissions such as Whipsmart!, Inspire Washington, Seattle Music Commission, and Seattle Center Advisory Commission. When she’s not at work, you’ll likely find Shannon traveling, swimming, hiking, hunting down the best restaurants, or enjoying live music and cultural events.

Robin Toth – Director of Economic Development for the Aerospace Sector

Prior to joining the Department of Commerce in 2018 as the Director of Economic Development for the Aerospace Sector, Robin was the Vice President, Business Development, for Greater Spokane Inc., Spokane County’s Associate Development Organization. During her thirteen-plus years with GSI, Robin worked with more than 100 companies that selected the Spokane region for their corporate relocation or expansion projects. These projects created an economic impact of more than $1 billion to the area, and the companies created almost 10,000 jobs. She also served the City of Spokane as a project manager, working on the Spokane University District formation and an award-winning EPA brownfields cleanup of a former railroad site.  Robin’s experience also included positions as the marketing and communications director for information technology companies like Ciena, Alcatel and Itron.

Brian Young – Director of Economic Development for the Clean Technology Sector

Brian Young brings diverse strategic and operational experience to his role as the state’s Clean Technology Sector Lead. He is the point of contact for clean technology companies who want to navigate Washington State’s political and economic landscape. He is focused on developing a prosperous and varied clean tech sector based on the state’s existing strengths. Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Brian worked in a variety of clean tech industries. After serving as an officer in the United States Navy, he joined an early-stage biofuel start-up that grew into Imperium Renewables, the largest independent biodiesel producer in the U.S. After Imperium, Brian created Element Strategic Partners, a clean tech consultancy that led the development of the Washington Clean Energy Leadership Council and worked internationally on sustainability and carbon issues. In 2011, he became a business development manager for a Tri-Cities engineering firm working on nuclear remediation efforts at Hanford and elsewhere within the Department of Energy complex. Brian graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a degree in Science, Technology, and International Affairs. In the winter, you can find him on the slopes at Alpental, where he is a member of the Volunteer Ski Patrol.

Timely Support

No matter what your needs, The OEDC team can remove roadblocks, get you answers and help you make informed business decisions, quickly and decisively.

Innovative Ideas

Our team specializes in out-of-the-box thinking to find solutions to your most pressing business, investment and expansion needs.

Clear Communication

Contact one of our business experts above to get timely answers to your questions about doing business in Washington State.

office hours

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2001 Sixth Ave., Suite 2600, Seattle, WA  98121


(206) 256-6100