Our talented team of business experts.
Brian Bonlender - Director, Washington State Department of Commerce
Brian was appointed Director of the Department of Commerce by Governor Jay Inslee in January 2013. Under his leadership, the department has revitalized and increased the state's economic development capabilities, expanded and linked its economic and community development programs, implemented a metrics-driven performance system and refocused around the shared purpose of strengthening communities. A Yakima native, Brian served as Inslee’s chief-of-staff and legislative director, running the congressman’s office and acting as his primary advisor on economic issues. Brian has worked on legislation and policy in a range of industries, including agriculture, life sciences, information technology, aerospace, maritime and clean energy. He brings nearly 20 years of public and private experience to the post, including working for a non-profit organization, volunteering overseas, and consulting for industries across the state on regulatory compliance. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Washington State University. Brian lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.
Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness (OEDC)
Chris Green - Assistant Director
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.
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 Team
Allison Clark - Managing Director, Business Development
Allison Clark is the Managing Director of the Business Development unit at the Washington State Department of Commerce, overseeing the business recruitment, retention, and expansion activities for the state. Before joining Commerce, Allison managed regional economic and workforce development programs at Highline Community College where she was also a part-time business faculty. She formerly managed export promotion and international trade programs in the King County Executive’s Office, including an international trade mission to China. Before arriving in Seattle, Allison worked for a Washington, DC–based trade association focusing on rural electrification and renewable energy projects located throughout the developing world as well as in-bound training programs for international energy officials and business counterparts. Allison is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, having served three years in Thailand. She holds a BA in political science and business administration from the Pennsylvania State University and an MA in international relations, with concentrations in international economics and Southeast Asian studies, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Allison speaks fluent Thai and has a working knowledge of Khmer.
Aline Allonas - Business Development Manager
Aline earned a B.A in History from the Sorbonne University in Paris and a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Catholic University of Paris. After living in Vienna, Austria, for a year, Aline worked for Publicis Consultants as a Crisis Communication specialist, and for NYSE Euronext in Paris as a Media Relations officer. Aline is a Board Member of the French-American Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest, the mission of which is to foster trade and business relations between France and the Pacific Northwest.
Radi Simeonova - Business Development Manager
As Business Development Manager with the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, 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.
Evan Wendlandt - Business Development Manager
Before joining the Business Development Team in the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness. Evan earned a bachelor's degree from The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where he studied Urban Regional Studies, and minored in Business Administration. Evan has been working in economic development since 2009. He has worked in both the public sector as the City of Berlin Wisconsin Community Development Director, and private non-profit sector for the Oshkosh Area Chamber of Commerce as their Economic Development Manager. In his spare time, Evan enjoys being outdoors, fishing and boating, biking, and traveling.
Jaclyn Woodson - Program Manager
As Program Manager, Jaclyn works collaboratively with the Governor’s Office and the Office of Financial Management on the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund, which helps to attract, recruit and retain businesses in Washington State. She also manages the Innovation Partnership Zone program that connects public, private and education partners to create collaboration between research, workforce training, employees and entrepreneurs within specific geographic areas. In June 2015, Jaclyn was given the opportunity to manage the completion of OEDC's State Small Business Credit Initiative program and the remaining reporting requirements. Jaclyn has worked for the Department of Commerce since 2005, managing federal and state infrastructure projects and contracting.
Export Assistance Team
Mark Calhoon - Senior Managing Director
Mark has worked with Commerce since 1990, assisting Washington companies in increasing export sales and attracting foreign business investment to the state. As Senior Managing Director of the Export Assistance unit, he manages a team of industry focused trade counselors and network of foreign representatives with coverage in 20 countries. Before joining the team, Mark worked for the Weyerhaeuser Company and lived overseas for 11 years while working on a multi-national supported rural economic development project in the South Pacific. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in forest resource management and communications. Mark serves on several boards, including chair-elect for the Japan America Society, the Washington State China Relations Council, the Washington Council for International Trade, and the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle.
Julie Bennion - Life Science Business Development Manager
As Life Science Business Development Manager, Julie works closely with startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses in the life science/global health sector to help them expand their exporting programs. Julie also serves as an advisory board member for the Washington State Center of Excellence for International Trade, Transportation, and Logistics and is president of the World Trade Club. Previously, Julie held positions in international trade at companies that export around the globe and spent more than six years at The National Bureau of Asian Research, a Seattle-based think-tank, before joining Commerce in 2008 to focus on international trade promotion. Julie earned her master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, with a focus on international trade and commercial policies, and spent a year at the Freie Universität Berlin as a Konrad Adenauer Fellow. She earned her BA from the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. Julie is fluent in German and speaks Spanish and Japanese.
Andrew Crowder - Clean Technology Business Development Manager
Before joining Commerce in July 2003, Andrew worked as a buyer for a leading Japanese food processing company that procured from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. His work took him frequently to rural areas of Washington, as well as trips to Mexico and Ecuador. Andrew taught English for three years in Hyogo, Washington’s sister state in Japan, and helped establish the ongoing sister-city relationship between the cities of Sequim, Washington and Yamasaki, Hyogo. Andrew holds undergraduate degrees in international studies and economics and an MBA with an emphasis on international business, all from the University of Washington. He is fluent in Japanese.
Isabelle DeWulf - Aerospace Business Development Manager
As Aerospace Manager for export assistance Isabelle is responsible for helping Washington aerospace supply companies find international buyers and partners to expand export sales. 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 with a focus on aerospace. Isabelle assisted U.S. companies enter or expand into the French market and acted as a liaison for the French-American business community, government agencies, trade and community-based organizations. For the past eight years, Isabelle planned and organized diverse aerospace-related events such as ITAR seminars and an annual Aerospace Industry Forum, bringing together leaders in the aerospace industry providing procurement opportunities to small supply chain companies within the global aviation industry. Isabelle was born and raised in France and moved to the US in 1986. Before making Seattle her home Isabelle lived in California, Colorado, and Texas.
Robert Fiddick - Information & Communication Technology Development Manager
Prior to joining Commerce, Rob spent over five years providing strategic trade policy advice to U.S. companies, many from the ICT industry, aimed at strengthening economic development as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Working with business executives and government policy makers both domestically and internationally, Rob advocated for policy changes that strengthened regional economic cooperation and enhanced the U.S. private sector’s ability to compete in the global marketplace. Rob has also worked with The Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT) and Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). Rob has a bachelor degree in management and organizational studies from the University of Western Ontario and a graduate degree in international law and international relations from the University of New South Wales.
Julie Monahan - Special Projects Manager
As Special Projects Manager, Julie analyzes and reports on regional and industry trade performance in Washington State, provides logistics support for the Governor’s international trade missions and assists small businesses seeking to launch or expand their international sales strategy. Her portfolio includes consumer products, professional services and international student recruitment. 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. Julie is a former journalist, marketing communications specialist and author of two children’s books.
International Trade Representatives
Paul Sinclair - Europe Trade Representative
Paul Sinclair is with TFDI, Washington State’s trade representative firm in Europe. Paul directs Commerce’s activities in Europe and Eastern Europe through a network of in-market consultants. He also works with Commerce in identifying European companies that want to invest in Washington State. He was instrumental in starting the Washington State Aero-desk, which is a dedicated to promoting both international trade and inward investment. Paul and his team have worked with hundreds of Washington companies to successfully identify business partners and business opportunities across Europe. With more than 35 years of international business and market development experience, Paul has successfully conducted business in over 30 countries in diverse market sectors from sales and market development to business partnering and acquisition.
Startup 365 Washington
Anne Nelson - Manager for Innovation and Rural Strategies
Before joining the Department of Commerce's Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness, Anne taught business, entrepreneurship and marketing courses at Walla Walla Community College. During her career, she has worked as a community and economic developer and as an entrepreneur, started several businesses. Anne is also known as a facilistrator extraordinaire for her work in illustrating community conversations. Anne is responsible for managing small business initiatives, developing rural strategies, overseeing Startup 365 and coordinating the economic gardening program for the state.
Marketing Services Team
Robb Zerr - Managing Director, Marketing Services
A Washington native, Robb has been a corporate communications, marketing and advertising professional 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 plan development, social media, copywriting, web design and crisis management. 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 exotic islands (having only made it to A, B, C, F, G, H, I, J, K, M, P, R, S and V so far). He graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in journalism. Before joining the Department of Commerce he owned and operated CommuniCreations, a Washington State creative services agency for 20 years.
Alex Harper - Brand & Creative Manager
Alex directs all the digital communications for the Choose Washington brand, including serving as webmaster for this website. 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.
Gretchen Schlomann - Marketing Projects Manager
Gretchen is part of our talented team of designers and creatives, which serves as the in-house creative services agency for the Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness. She comes to Commerce with extensive experience as a graphic designer and art director in both the public and private sector. For several years she was art director/designer/manager of the Washington State Employment Security Information Office design team. For over 20 years she owned and operated a freelance design studio where clients ranged from product developers and manufacturers, consultants and service professionals to local government agencies. In her spare time, she brings her creativity to spinning, weaving and knitting alpaca fiber.
Joshua Berger - Director of Economic Development for the Maritime Sector
Before joining the Department of Commerce in 2015 as the Director of Economic Development for the Maritime Sector, Joshua served as Coordinator of the Washington Maritime Federation and brings extensive maritime industry experience to his position. During his career, he has developed a successful record of leadership in a number of positions including: Maritime Sector Business Development Manager for the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County; Program Director and Marine Operations Manager at The Evergreen State College; and E3 Regional and Network Coordinator for the Environmental Education Association of Washington. Joshua is also a professional Merchant Mariner having worked in the towing industry and spent six years as captain, sail trainer and environmental educator with Sound Experience, aboard the schooner Adventuress.
Brian Hatfield - Director of Economic Development for the Forest Products Sector
As a product of Washington’s timber country himself, Brian Hatfield’s passionate support for rural economic development and the defense of our state’s natural resources industries stood out during his 26 years of service, in and around the State Legislature. Brian first worked as an assistant to State Senators Arlie DeJarnatt and Sid Snyder, before being elected to the House of Representatives from southwest Washington’s 19th Legislative District in 1994. He served in the House for 10 years, before joining the staff of Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen in 2004. In 2006, Brian became State Senator and, for most of his tenure, chaired the Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development Committee. Brian also represented the Senate Democratic Caucus on the Lt. Governor’s Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations; and the Community Economic Revitalization Board, run by the Washington State Department of Commerce. Brian is a graduate of Washington State University, with a degree in Public Administration.
Maura Little - Director of Economic Development for the Life Sciences Sector
As Director of the Life Sciences sector for the state of Washington, Maura supports the development of the life science and global health industry, including working with industry leaders on recruitment, retention and expansion of the sector statewide. She entered the life science and global health industry as a member of Congressman Jay Inslee's staff, serving as his point of contact at the state-level for trade associations, business leaders, government agencies and elected officials. She worked closely with the industry to connect local talent and promote the sector within Congress. During her time in Washington, D.C., she helped Congressman Inslee pass multiple amendments on both committee and house floors. Before joining the Department of Commerce, Maura served as the Washington State Director of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, working with legislators and the Insurance Commissioner to ensure patient access and safety was being addressed during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. She is a graduate of the University of Washington where she studied political science and serves as a public member of the Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission.
Kristiné Reeves- Director of the Military & Defense Sector
A Washington native, Kristiné serves as the Director of the Military & Defense sector, focusing on the public and private elements of economic development as it relates to infrastructure, suppliers and contractors and community advocacy and public infrastructure organizations. Before joining the Department of Commerce, she served as the Kitsap & Olympic Peninsula Director, the South Sound Regional Director and the Statewide Veterans Constituency Coordinator for U.S. Senator Patty Murray. As a staff member of the senator’s staff, Kristiné was instrumental in facilitating a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Field Hearing in Tacoma, increasing networking and relationship development with the Navy and the Army, and worked intimately on military transition and workforce development issues in the state. Kristiné received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington State University-Pullman and her master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration.
John Thornquist - Director, Office of Aerospace
John serves as the Director of the Aerospace sector, appointed to the role by Governor Jay Inslee. As director, John serves as the principal adviser on aerospace-related issues and coordinates activities to promote growth of the industry throughout the state. Before joining Commerce, John served as CEO of Carbon Aerospace, an Everett-based aerospace firm, and co-founded Global Aerospace Systems, which later became Kaman Engineering Services. Under his leadership, Kaman was named Boeing Supplier of the Year. John brings nearly three decades of experience in aerospace to his role as director of the state’s aerospace sector. A lifelong Washington resident, he earned his MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business and graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Dr. Joseph Williams - Director of Economic Development for the ICT Sector
A former executive with Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, Dr. Williams served as the Dean of the School of Business, Government and Economics at Seattle Pacific University before joining Commerce. His distinguished career in the tech industry, in academia and the public sector includes extensive experience working with angel investing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies and customers on the business models and economics of cloud computing. He has authored three books and dozens of articles related to the ICT industry while he was a professor in the College of Business at Colorado State University in the 1990s. Dr. Williams has degrees from the University of California-Berkley, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Texas-Austin.
Brian Young - Director of Economic Development for the Clean Technology Sector
Brian Young brings diverse strategic and operational experience to his role as Governor Inslee’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.
If you are interested in expanding your markets abroad, growing your business in the state, moving your business or some of its operations to Washington or successfully competing in the marketplace, contact one of our business experts today!