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Commerce names Alison Beason and Carolyn Busch to industry sector director posts

Beason leads development of state life science and global health sector; Busch comes on board in new position leading workforce innovation and industry sector programs

OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness appointed two new industry sector directors this month. Alison Beason joined the team in January as Director/Sector Lead for Life Science and Global Health for the life science and global health industry. Carolyn Busch was appointed to the new position of Director of Workforce Innovation and Industry Sector Program Coordinator.

“We are delighted that Alison and Carolyn have chosen to bring their deep experience, accomplishments and passion for public service to bolster our industry sector development work at Commerce,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “In particular, their dedication to equity is directly aligned with our mission of strengthening communities through expanding opportunities for all business owners and entrepreneurs in every region of Washington state.”

Alison Beason headshot

Alison Beason

Beason comes to Commerce with more than 20 years of experience in public service. She will spearhead efforts to advance Gov. Jay Inslee’s ongoing work to grow and strengthen scientific communities through statewide industry sector development strategies.

Before joining Commerce, Beason was integral to the development of equity, diversity and inclusion at the City of Tacoma and the Port of Seattle.  At the Port, her work focused on strategic investments in small businesses and job creation within the South King County area. She established a fund of more than $10 million to revitalize communities that have been historically marginalized and disproportionately impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the goal of helping policymakers and decision-makers make data-driven decisions to eliminate disparities throughout the communities they serve, she developed the organization’s first Equity Index, just as she did for Tacoma.

Beason also held strategic roles at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She holds a Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Howard University, College of Medicine, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology, with a Minor in Chemistry and Mathematics from Jarvis Christian College. She is a board member for Tacoma Arts Live and, in her spare time, enjoys international travel and wine varietals from the Bordeaux region of France.

“The life sciences and global health sectors contribute more than $7 billion to Washington state’s economy, and I look forward to working with Commerce, the Governor and the various industry leaders to ensure that this upward trajectory remains strong in the years to come,” Beason said. “As we harness the power of our diversity to foster further innovation and growth in the areas of research, commercialization and manufacturing will only strengthen communities across Washington in the long term.”

photo of Carolyn Busch

Carolyn Busch

Busch fills the new position of Workforce Innovation Director and Industry Sector Program Coordinator at Commerce, adding to a 30-year career in public policy. She will lead the department’s work to address major workforce shortages, underemployment, degree inflation and disparate work experiences by gender and race — longstanding problems requiring thoughtful, inclusive solutions.

“I’m thrilled to be at Commerce working in the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness. By seriously pursuing innovative ideas in attracting and retaining the best workers for industries under economic siege due to the pandemic and generational and demographic shifts, we can create better opportunities for every person to thrive and be fulfilled in their work. Conversely, employers will benefit from increased productivity which comes from employee belonging and well-being. This synergy between workforce and workplace supports the agency’s goal to increase Washington’s share of high-growth, high-employment industries and trade opportunities,” Busch said.

Prior to this role, Busch served as Special Projects Manager for King County’s Department of Human Resources and as Chief of Staff for the King County Council. She previously worked for the Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus, initially as the Policy Analyst for budget and taxes and finally as Chief of Staff.  Busch’s other public policy work includes higher education policy at the University of Washington, as well as advising Governors Gardner and Locke on K12 and higher education.  Born and raised in Seattle, Busch earned a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington. She enjoys spending time with her family, well as cooking, hiking, cross country skiing and biking.

Beason can be reached at, (206) 256-6110 and Busch is at, (206) 256-6140.