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600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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June 16, 2018
Contact: Commission office, 360-902-2267

Commission selects Kelly Susewind
as new director of WDFW

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today appointed Kelly Susewind of Olympia as the new director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the Governor to set policy for WDFW, voted unanimously to select Susewind after interviewing seven candidates in May and narrowing the field to three finalists, who were interviewed for a second time earlier this week.

Susewind accepted the appointment as permanent director following the commission's vote. He will oversee an agency of 1,800 employees and an operating budget of $460 million for the current two-year budget period. WDFW is charged with conserving fish and wildlife and providing sustainable recreational and commercial opportunities.

Susewind has worked at the state Department of Ecology since 1990 in a variety of roles, most recently as the director of administrative services and environmental policy. He also worked several years during the 1980s as a private-sector environmental consultant.

Susewind received a bachelor's degree in geological engineering from Washington State University and an associate's degree in engineering from Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen. He grew up in the Grays Harbor area.

"All of the commissioners look forward to a fresh start for WDFW under Kelly's leadership, particularly in the approach our agency takes to improving our working relationships with the Legislature, native American tribes, and the people of Washington to manage the state's wonderful fish and wildlife resources," said Commission Chairman Brad Smith.

"Today's appointment marks the beginning of a new era in the department's history," Smith added. "We have an immensely dedicated, talented, and energetic staff, and we are confident that with Kelly in the director's position, WDFW will achieve the high level of success we expect."

Susewind said, "I'm honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of Washington at an agency whose effectiveness is critical to our ability to conserve fish and wildlife resources while providing outdoor recreation and commercial opportunities throughout the state. The public has high expectations for WDFW, and I'm excited about being in a position to deliver the results they deserve."

Susewind's salary will be $165,000 per year. He will assume the director's position on Aug. 1.

After voting to appoint Susewind, the commission thanked Acting Director Joe Stohr for his service since former Director Jim Unsworth's resignation in early February. "The commission sincerely appreciates Joe's strong leadership over the past five months," Smith said.

Reporters/editors: A photo of Susewind is available at