Gregoire appoints new director of L&I, reappoints Agriculture director

Gov. Christine Gregoire yesterday named Gary K. Weeks director of the Department of Labor and Industries. The agency manages Washington’s workers’ compensation insurance system and oversees workplace safety and health through its WISHA division (Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act).

Weeks currently is director of the Oregon Department of Human Services, the largest state agency in Oregon with 9,500 employees and a budget of $9.5 billion. Before that, he was director of Government Operations, a position that serves as the operations manager for all of state government. Weeks also worked with the Casey Strategic Consulting Group, which assists states, counties and cities with the reform of public human services systems. From 1991 to 1993, Weeks was director of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services and, as such, held the title of insurance commissioner and banking superintendent. Among other things, the agency was responsible for worker protection under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and for implementing reform of the workers’ compensation system.

“I am committed to working closely with business and labor to improve the quality and efficiency of service at the Department of Labor and Industries.,” said Weeks. “I’m looking forward to applying my experiences and skills to the issues facing L&I.”

Gregoire said one of Weeks’ tasks will be to build bridges that bring representatives from business and labor together to solve problems.
The governor also reappointed Valoria Loveland as director of the Department of Agriculture. Loveland has been director since 2002. In reappointing Loveland as director of the agriculture department, Gregoire said her office conducted an extensive search for a leader.

Gregoire said she has asked Loveland to particularly focus on promoting Washington state products to markets in-state, as well as around the world through trade missions and other ways.

“We are going to have to challenge ourselves to make sure our agricultural products continue to be competitive in the world marketplace – with the highest yield and the highest quality,” she said.