Gov. Jay Inslee today named Michael Fong to serve as director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. He replaces Lisa Brown, who left Commerce earlier this year after leading the agency for four years. Kendrick Stewart, Commerce’s deputy director and current acting director, will continue leading the agency until Fong begins on May 8.
Fong currently serves as the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s operations in the Pacific Northwest. President Biden appointed him to this position in January, 2022. In this role, he oversaw the delivery of programs aimed at providing small business owners emergency pandemic relief funding, access to capital, business development counseling and government contracting opportunities.
“Mike has a wide breadth of experience managing major progressive economic development programs on behalf of Washingtonians, and building successful coalitions,” Inslee said. “He has the integrity and the skillset required to lead the Department of Commerce and to deliver on the agency’s expansive mission of strengthening communities. I also want to thank Kendrick for his ongoing leadership and look forward to continuing to work with him as well.”
“Michael Fong has been an effective and committed leader as SBA’s regional administrator,” said SBA’s administrator, Isabella Guzman. “His commitment and knowledge have helped Region 10’s over 1.3M small businesses start, grow, and become more resilient. I am grateful for Mike’s high level of service at the SBA and know that he will continue to deliver strong economic impact in his new leadership role for the state of Washington.”
Fong has more than two decades of experience in the public sector at the city, county and national level, leading people and managing complex policy priorities. Prior to his appointment with the SBA, he held leadership roles in Seattle, King County and Snohomish County. He also served as a senior deputy mayor for the City of Seattle from 2017 to 2021. In that capacity, he led policy development to provide funding for two years of free community college for public high school graduates. Fong began his career as a policy analyst and legislative aide for Seattle’s city council.
“Under Governor Inslee’s leadership, the Department of Commerce is at the forefront of tackling the state’s most pressing issues. I’m looking forward to bringing my experience across local government and the SBA to support the agency’s mission to strengthen communities and grow our economy in every corner of the state,” Fong said. “We’ll continue to lead the nation as an equitable, inclusive place to live, work and thrive.”
Fong received the International Examiner’s Community Voice Award for excellence in civic leadership in 2018, and continues to do volunteer work in his community. He has been a director on the board of the ACLU of Washington and spent several years coaching youth basketball for the Seattle Chinese Athletic Association.
Fong is a native of Spokane, Washington. He received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Washington. He speaks Cantonese fluently.