Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New director takes the helm

By: Mike Louisell
Communications Office

Derek Sandison began his cabinet-level position as director of WSDA on June 15. A senior Ecology manager who has worked extensively with the agriculture community on water access issues, Sandison began meeting with industry leaders and WSDA staff shortly after Gov. Jay Inslee announced his appointment May 21.

Derek Sandison at TVW interview
“Our Department of Agriculture helps support a multi-billion industry and works closely with growers, workers, tribes and communities around the state,” Inslee said when the announcement was made. “Derek has a successful record of leading on incredibly complex and large-scale projects and brings a commitment to innovation, transparency and collaboration that is exactly what we need to maintain and grow Washington’s world-class agriculture industry.”

Most recently, Sandison was director of the Wenatchee-based Office of Columbia River at the Department of Ecology, where he managed water supply projects along the Columbia River Basin. He was also a principal architect of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan and has played a key role in other water supply efforts such as the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Project.

Sandison has also been regional director for the Department of Ecology’s Central Region. Based out of Yakima, this region covers seven counties stretching from the Canadian border to Klickitat and Benton counties.

As WSDA director, Sandison will oversee an agency with a budget of about $158 million and a staff of 750 that can grow by 200 during harvest season. WSDA has a broad range of responsibilities that include protecting plants and livestock from pests and disease, ensuring the movement of agriculture products, managing the use and registration of pesticides, and ensuring the safety of the state’s food supply.

Sandison earned a bachelor’s degree in biological science and a master’s in natural resource management—both from Central Washington University.