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Updates: Leadership Change within WSDA

WSDA Updates

Good afternoon, 

I’m excited to share with you all an update on our vacant assistant director position and the reorganization of a division to better align with the mission of the Department of Agriculture.

Beginning March 25, Kelly McLain will become Assistant Director of our Agricultural Environmental Services (AES) Division. It will encompass the current Pesticide Management Division (PMD) along with the Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences (NRAS) program and the Cannabis/Hemp program. By broadening the division's name, we can better reflect the regulatory and technical assistance services PMD, NRAS, and the Cannabis/Hemp program offer our stakeholders and state and federal partners.

From Kelly in her own words: “I am excited about the opportunity to lead this division and continue with the great work that has shaped its resilience and culture. The rebranding of the Pesticide Management Division as the Agricultural Environmental Services Division, or AES, and folding in NRAS and the Cannabis/Hemp Programs will provide better alignment of programs and more robust support for future work.”

Kelly began working for WSDA in October 2009 as a Pesticide Use Specialist. Since then, she has served the agency in a variety of roles including as a manager in NRAS from 2014-2018. For the last six years, she has been an integral part of our Legislative Affairs team specializing in science-based policy.

To aid in a smooth transition, Kelly will continue to serve as our Legislative Liaison through the remainder of the 2024 legislative session and Jason Ferrante, Interim Deputy Director, will continue acting as the Assistant Director of PMD.

Jason and I understand that this change impacts the future of WSDA’s policy shop, as Kelly has been vital to our success during the legislative session. We are proactively working on a solution that will satisfy the needs of the agency, divisions, and Legislative Affairs team. Formal communication to follow. In the meantime, please contact Evan Sheffels ( with any policy-related questions.

Please join me in congratulating Kelly on her new position. I look forward to seeing how her work in this role, and our new AES division, contributes to the future of Washington agriculture.      



Derek I. Sandison, Director

Washington State Department of Agriculture


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