Tech veteran Suzi LeVine leaving Washington state unemployment agency for Biden administration role – GeekWire

Suzi LeVine. (State Department Photo)

Suzi LeVine, commissioner of Washington state’s Employment Security Department, is leaving that role to take a position with President Joe Biden’s administration, the agency announced Friday.

Details about LeVine’s new role, which will be effective Feb. 1, were not shared.

A Seattle tech veteran with prior government experience, LeVine was appointed to head the state’s unemployment agency by Gov. Jay Inslee in July 2018.

“I have loved every minute of my job here at ESD, even the ones that have been the most difficult,” LeVine said in a statement. “From the moment I started with the agency, I recognized my role as Commissioner is a position with profound purpose that has a positive impact on millions of lives as well as no shortage of really hard problems to solve. I am humbled and honored to have served my state in this way these past two and a half years and look forward to applying my accumulated knowledge and experience to some of the hardest challenges our nation has ever faced.”

ESD has delivered more than $13.5 billion in benefits to more than a million unemployed Washingtonians during the COVID-19 crisis. But the agency has been heavily criticized during the pandemic for delays and glitches in paying claims to jobless workers. In December, according to The Seattle Times, Levine acknowledged ongoing problems with the agency’s phone and web systems and staffing shortages which meant some claimants weren’t getting help fast enough.

ESD was also plagued by a $600 million fraud scheme which targeted the state’s unemployment benefits.

Prior to heading up ESD, LeVine spent three years serving as the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein under the Obama administration, and has long been an advocate of apprenticeships and other workforce education efforts. During her ambassadorship, she worked with dozens of companies to bring a Swiss-style apprenticeship program to the U.S., which she discussed with GeekWire in a 2016 Geek of the Week profile. At ESD, she boosted apprenticeship innovations through Career Connect Washington grants.

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“She led the successful implementation of our state’s historic Paid Family and Medical Leave program, which has allowed nearly 100,000 people to spend time with their families without having to worry about additional financial stress and strain,” Inslee said in a statement. “I thank Suzi for her work in Washington and look forward to hearing about what she takes on next.”

Before joining the state department, LeVine led strategic partnership and communications education at Microsoft and served as the VP of marketing and sales for Expedia’s Luxury Travel Division.


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