ABOUT THE LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

 

The Leadership Council is the governing body of the Puget Sound Partnership. Its seven members are leading citizens chosen from around the Sound. Members are appointed by the Governor to serve four-year terms, but may continue to serve until being officially reappointed or replaced by a new member. Dennis McLerran currently chairs the Leadership Council.

Chair: Dennis McLerran

Term ends: June 25, 2026
Biography: Dennis McLerran served as the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10, which encompasses Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and Pacific Northwest Indian Country from 2010 until January of 2017. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Stockholm Environment Institute US, a research affiliate of Tufts University specializing in sustainable development and environmental issues. His previous experiences include serving as executive director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the regional air quality agency for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties; president of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies; and chairman of the Land Use and Environmental Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association. He holds a law degree from Seattle University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the University of Washington.

Vice Chair: Will Hall

Term ends: June 25, 2025
Biography: Will Hall has been protecting and restoring Puget Sound in many roles over the years. He wrote one of the first salmon recovery plans in the state, for the Snohomish River Basin. He established a marine resources committee that engages hundreds of volunteers in Puget Sound recovery. As director of the third-largest stormwater utility in Washington, he was responsible for planning, outreach, and monitoring, and for capital projects to protect and restore water quality, salmon habitat, and marine resources across five major watersheds draining to Puget Sound.

Hall is an expert at local government planning and land use. He has served on the Shoreline City Council for 11 years, including three as mayor. He has been active on many boards, including The Coastal Society, the Society for Ecological Restoration, the Association of Washington Cities, the Southern Resident Orca Task Force, and the Puget Sound Partnership Ecosystem Coordination Board, which he chaired for four years. Hall has an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Chicago and a Master of Marine Affairs degree from the University of Washington School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. Hall and his wife, Laurie, grew up near Puget Sound and enjoy many outdoor activities including hiking, biking, skiing, and scuba diving.

Member: Victoria Christiansen

Term ends: June 25, 2026
Biography: Christiansen retired in 2021 as chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, a role in which she had served since 2018. As chief of the Forest Service, Christiansen led a workforce of about 40,000 employees who worked to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands for the benefit of current and future generations. As Forest Service chief, she led agency efforts to improve the conditions of America’s forests and grasslands by modernizing how the Forest Service delivers landscape conservation through shared stewardship with local, state, and national partners and tribes. Christiansen joined the Forest Service in 2010 as the deputy director of fire and aviation management. Prior to serving as chief, she was deputy chief for state and private forestry overseeing Forest Service wildland fire and working with partners to sustain the health and productivity of non-federal forest lands. Prior to joining the Forest Service, she was the Arizona State forester and director of the Arizona Division of Forestry, responsible for the protection of 22 million acres of state and private lands.

Christiansen also served as the Washington State forester, where she had a 26-year career with Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). She started as a wildland firefighter while still in college. In her first permanent position as a forester, she was responsible for the reforestation of state trust lands in the Mt. Saint Helens' blast zone. In all, she was a wildland firefighter and fire manager for 40 years. She has numerous credentials in the wildland fire program with a special expertise in fire line explosives. Christiansen has a Bachelor of Science in forest management from the University of Washington (cum laude 1983).

Member: Kate Dean

Term ends: June 25, 2025
Biography: Dean is a Jefferson County Commissioner for District 1, Port Townsend, a position she was elected to in 2017, and has served as a member of the Partnership's Ecosystem Coordination Board. She moved to Jefferson County in 1999 and spent 10 years farming and working to grow the local food economy through businesses she co-founded, including FinnRiver Farm and Mt. Townsend Creamery. Her experience as an entrepreneur is critical to her understanding of the local economy and community.

Dean left the farm but didn’t go far; she started a consulting business that had her working on natural resource and rural economic development issues locally and regionally. She coordinated the Jefferson Landworks Collaborative (a farmland preservation and enterprise development initiative), managed Washington State University Extension’s Small Farm Program, worked for Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, and was the regional director for the North Olympic Development Council, a council of governments tasked with community and economic development. Dean holds her Master of Public Administration degree from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. Her publications include USDA Farmland Changing Hands and Preparing for Climate Change on the North Olympic Peninsula. In her spare time, Dean can be found gardening, riding her bike, or in the mountains with her two teenagers.

Member: Russell Hepfer

Term ends: June 25, 2023
Biography: Russell Hepfer, a Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe member, grew up on the Lower Elwha Klallam Reservation and has exercised his treaty harvest rights for his entire life, harvesting fish and shellfish, including geoduck. He taught himself how to fish and then passed those skills on to several of his sons and a nephew. Russell started in natural resources as a water quality technician in 1995, then soon was asked to represent his tribe as a commissioner on the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

While serving the commission for the past 18 years, he has also served on his tribal council for 16 years, formerly as chair and currently as vice chair. Since 2005, he has served as his tribe's delegate to the Indian Policy Advisory Committee for the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services. He has also been his tribe's delegate to the Coast Salish Gathering since its inception in 2006. When he's not working, he loves spending time in the outdoors, camping and fishing.

Member: Deborah Jensen

Term ends: June 25, 2023
Biography: Deborah Jensen has extensive experience as an executive leading conservation and scientific organizations in Washington state and internationally. Named by Seattle Business Magazine as a recipient of the 2015 Executive Excellence Award and by the Puget Sound Business Journal as a recipient of the 2009 Women of Influence Award, Ms. Jensen currently serves as principal for Jensen and Associates. The firm offers consulting services on business and conservation strategy, organizational change, and board development. She is also a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the University of Washington, College of the Environment. From 2002 to 2015, Ms. Jensen shepherded the 100-year-old Woodland Park Zoo in its transition to nonprofit management and built strong education and conservation programs. Before moving to the Northwest, she served as Vice President of The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Science Division, at its world headquarters, in Arlington, Virginia. She holds masters and doctorate degrees in Energy and Resources and an undergraduate degree in Botany from the University of California Berkeley. Ms. Jensen’s community involvement includes serving as current Vice-Chair of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. She has also served as a member of the Seattle Community Development Roundtable; member of the Board of Directors, Association of Zoos and Aquariums; and as President and Board member, Society for Conservation Biology.

Last updated: 08/25/2022

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