March 26, 2019
OLYMPIA, WA – On March 21, members of the Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) unanimously voted to appoint Dr. Carol Smith as the new executive director of the agency. She will start the position on May 1.
Smith previously worked for the SCC from 1998-2014 managing the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program — Washington’s largest streamside habitat restoration program for salmon — and science-related issues. She returns to the Conservation Commission after spending the last four and a half years at the Washington State Department of Ecology where she managed the Environmental Assessment Program, which is the science-arm of the agency. Smith also has worked for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Morehouse School of Medicine, and she directed a chemistry laboratory in California.
“I am honored to be entrusted to lead the dedicated team of Conservation Commission staff and conservation districts in delivering voluntary conservation across our working lands,” said Smith. “Conservation districts work with private landowners to develop local solutions to environmental problems. Our goal is to have viable agriculture that also contributes to a healthy environment in Washington State.”
The SCC conducted a national search and extensive interview process to select what SCC Chair Jim Kropf referred to as “an outstanding pool of candidates.” Kropf said the Commission wanted the hiring process to be as inclusive as possible. Conservation districts, partner agencies, stakeholders, and agency staff had opportunities to hear each candidate’s vision for the future and provide feedback before the final appointment was made.
“This is a pivotal time for conservation in Washington,” said Kropf. “Commission members were committed to finding a director who could lead our agency, conservation districts, and residents of our state toward a future where our natural resources and working lands are healthy and sustainable. Carol has the experience and passion to do just that.”
Smith grew up near McCleary, Washington. She worked for Simpson Timber Company for several years while attending college at Saint Martin’s University. She has a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in various biological sciences from the University of Hawaii.
As executive director of the SCC, she will oversee the agency’s 22-person staff, voluntary conservation programs, and the funding, support, and services the agency provides to Washington’s 45 conservation districts.