James Thompson named executive director of the State Conservation Commission
Thompson will begin to lead the agency that helps to coordinate conservation districts and voluntary conservation programs starting today
The Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) announces the appointment of James Thompson as its dynamic new executive director, following a meticulous selection process during their November commission meeting. Thompson is set to take the helm of the agency on December 1, 2023.
Daryl Williams, Chair of the SCC Board of Commissioners, expressed enthusiasm about the choice, stating, “The commissioners are thrilled to welcome James as the new executive director. In a highly competitive field of outstanding candidates, the board was compelled by James' extensive experience and unwavering passion for conservation. We are confident that his energy and fresh perspective will contribute significantly to the continued advancement of meaningful conservation initiatives across our picturesque state.”
Hailing from Castle Rock in Cowlitz County, Thompson brings a wealth of experience, having grown up in his family's community newspaper businesses and later working as a contract logger on high-lead timber harvest operations. This hands-on experience has provided him with a profound understanding of skills and strategies in natural resource management, allowing him to navigate specific regional settings, evolving forest conditions, markets, and ownership of timber resources.
Thompson shared, “I am eager to start contributing to the support of our conservation districts and the overall well-being of Washington's natural resources and farmland. Drawing from my experiences in local government and various state agencies, I hope to equip districts with the tools they need to conserve our environmental resources and ensure the continued agricultural vitality statewide.”
Thompson's academic background includes studies in history and political science at Whitman College, and his diverse career path features roles in personnel management within various state government agencies. Additionally, he has demonstrated leadership in global trade, tax, customs, and logistics through positions such as Director of International Trade and Logistics for the Terex Corporation, North American Transportation Manager for Starbucks Coffee Company, and Operations Manager for International Paper.
Returning to public policy work, Thompson spent nearly a decade with the Washington Public Ports Association, where he engaged with local elected leaders and governments, eventually serving three years as executive director.
Beyond his professional pursuits, Thompson, an avid sea kayaker and active Mountaineers member, resides with his family in Olympia.
This appointment marks the culmination of an extensive and months-long search for the SCC's next director. The search committee conducted multiple stages of interviews, providing opportunities for SCC staff and conservation districts to submit feedback. The commissioners made the final appointment during their Nov. 30 business meeting.
Interim Executive Director Sarah Groth expressed her pleasure in leading the agency over the past few months, adding, “I am excited for the opportunity to work with James as he transitions in as the new executive director for SCC and go back to my day job.” She is confident that with James' background in public service, he will continue to build on the great work implemented by conservation districts statewide.