Gov. Inslee names new executive director for Puget Sound Partnership


Long overdue. We hope she is as good an administrator and executive as the Governor believes. We wish her the best, and hope that she gets out of Tacoma and into the field quickly to meet the many varied people doing the grassroots work that the Partnership funds and supports. She apparently has only a local “East Side” knowledge of environmental issues, and no experience in the broader Puget Sound Basin issues, such as the relationships between state agencies, federal agencies, NGOs and Tribes. The problem of course, is establishing herself among those entities and learning the unique issues of collaborating to get things done. Her various predecessors seemed to rarely show up to meet us out here in the ‘hinterlands’. We had the feeling it was all decision-making from the top down. It’s seemed to have been a vacuum for a couple of years now with re-orgs with little to show for the internal churn.  So we have just tended to do what we had to, in order to work with them,and continue the heavy lifting locally. We’d love to see more leadership and better planning of things like timing of grants from them.

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Today Gov. Jay Inslee announced his appointment of Sheida R. Sahandy as the new Executive Director for the Puget Sound Partnership, the agency formed by the state Legislature to lead the recovery of the Puget Sound. Sahandy has worked for the City of Bellevue since 2006, where she has served as the Assistant to City Manager. Her appointment is effective February 4.

“I am very excited that Sheida Sahandy will be leading this effort. She has a record of taking on complex challenges and moving the needle in the right direction,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “From her years as a corporate attorney, to leading Bellevue’s rise as an innovator and leader in environmental and social responsibility, Sheida has demonstrated the ability to bring private and public interests together toward a common mission. She knows how to work successfully across sectors, across jurisdictions, and across diverse subject matter areas to achieve measurable results. She is the person we need at the helm of the Puget Sound Partnership.”

As the Partnership’s new Executive Director, the Governor is looking for Sahandy to focus the work of the Partnership on the most critical and effective projects, work with other state agencies and partners to maximize alignment of efforts, and increase public engagement in Puget Sound recovery.

“We need to ensure that people appreciate the truly critical role the Puget Sound plays in every aspect of our lives – economy, ecology, and why we call this area home,” said Inslee. “I want my grandkids and their grandkids to be able to play safely in the Puget Sound, to fish for salmon they can eat, to dig for clams and oysters they can cook over a campfire. To make that happen, we need to accelerate the work being done right now.”

Sahandy has led strategic initiatives for the City of Bellevue, and was responsible for creating the City’s first city-wide environmental stewardship initiative. “The Puget Sound is a national treasure and the Governor has made it clear that Puget Sound recovery is one of his top environmental priorities,” said Sahandy. “We are facing increasingly pressing issues, such as the viability of our shellfish industry, as well as the foundational goal of ensuring we create a sustainable environment in this state that is the bedrock of a sustainable economy – the need for action has never been more compelling or urgent.”

Sahandy earned her Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she concentrated her studies on climate, energy and environment. She earned a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University’s School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied environmental design and the biological sciences.

And this from Martha Konigsgaard, the current Chair of the Leadership Council for the Partnership. Martha is likely to be a very good mentor for Ms. Sahandy. 

I am happy to share with you that Governor Inslee has appointed Sheida Sahandy as the Puget Sound Partnership’s new Executive Director. The search has been lengthy, but the results are a win for Puget Sound.

Sheida comes from the City of Bellevue, where she has been Assistant to the City Manager. During her time there, she has demonstrated her commitment to innovation and bringing private and public interests together. Sheida was responsible for creating the City of Bellevue’s first city-wide environmental stewardship initiative. She also created the City’s first suite of environmental indicators and targets, brought multiple organizations together to form the C-& New Energy Partnership, and spearheaded public-private partnerships that encourage environmental and corporate social responsibility. Sheida earned her Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she concentrated her studies on climate, energy and environment. She earned a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University’s School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied environmental design and the biological sciences. In addition to her public experience, Sheida spent several years as a large-firm corporate attorney.

We’ve come a long way this past year. The state Legislature allocated a record $394 million to Puget Sound priorities. On the federal level, we have a new and energized Puget Sound Recovery Caucus ready to work for us in Washington, D.C. Locally our partners have come together to identify high-priority projects throughout the region. Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund dollars have helped move forward the state’s largest seawall removal and a 400-acre tidal marsh restoration project that is the largest of its kind in the state. Our State of the Sound report shows that we are making progress on indicators that respond quickly. And that’s just a taste.

The distance we have traveled along the path to Puget Sound recovery this past year speaks volumes about the talent, dedication and passion of the Puget Sound Partnership’s staff, Boards, Panels, Scientists and the hundreds of concerned and engaged citizen partners who want to make Puget Sound safe and healthy for the people who live here today, and the generations who will follow.

Creating a healthy Puget Sound is complex work. It’s about human health and quality of life. It’s about sustaining the populations of our native species. It’s about jobs and the economy. It’s about honoring our tribal treaty rights. The diversity of this essential mandate takes a special leader who can listen, analyze, and act in a way that brings people together and puts priorities into action.

Sheida’s talent for working across sectors and jurisdictions, her ability to balance the many competing needs of the region, and her desire to jump energetically into the work of the Partnership at this critical juncture to make a positive difference bode well for the region and the long term cause.   I believe Sheida is more than up to this task and intend on doing everything I can to help her be successful as I am sure you all will.

Thank you for the role you play in this effort. Please join me in welcoming Sheida to this important post as we continue the work to heal this remarkable place we call home.

Martha Kongsgaard

Chair, Leadership Council

One Response

  1. I was fascinated by the choice. All Al has said was also my pinball reaction to someone who may have organizational skills but is, I suspect, woefully ignorant of both the nature of the problems we face and the history, dirty laundry and all, that constitutes dialog between the various Puget Sound factions. I’ll wait and see what the rest of the region has to say, but, let’s celebrate Ms Sahandy on her new job. J

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