Meet the Academy Staff
What Drives Us

Strengthening Communities

The Department of Commerce is the one agency in state government that touches every aspect of community and economic development: planning, infrastructure, energy, public facilities, housing, public safety and crime victims, international trade, business services and more. We work with local governments, tribes, businesses and civic leaders throughout the state to strengthen communities so all residents may thrive and prosper.

Creatives Academy

Our Staff

The Creatives Academy staff has a long background in education, training, creative arts and small business management. Their experience has proven invaluable in putting this series together.

Lisa Brown, PhD

Dean of the Creatives Academy

Lisa was appointed Director of the Department of Commerce by Governor Jay Inslee in January 2019. Before joining Commerce, she served as chancellor of the Spokane campus of Washington State University where she worked primarily in health sciences and played a major role in the creation of the new Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. Prior to her work at WSU, she served in the Washington State Legislature as a senator for 16 years, serving as Senate majority leader, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, chair of the Rules Committee and chair of the Energy, Technology and Telecommunications Committee. Lisa served in the state House of Representatives for four years where she held the positions of minority whip and minority floor leader and served as an associate professor at both Gonzaga University and Eastern Washington University. Lisa earned her Ph.D. and master’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois. She has served on the boards of Ignite Northwest and YWCA Spokane. Her prior community service ranges from Greater Spokane Incorporated and the Empire Health Foundation to the Washington State Investment Board, among many others. Lisa has been honored by Catalyst Magazine with the “Power 50 Celebrating Influence” and “Women in Business Leadership” awards. She was also named Woman of the Year by Washington State University in 2013 and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Early Learning Action Alliance that same year.

Robb Zerr


A Washington native, Robb has been a communications, marketing and business consultant since 1981, working with a prestigious roster of national and international clients around the world.  Before joining the state in 2012, Robb was Mister Know-It-All at CommuniCreations, Inc. and CEO of, working closely with entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses and mega-corps all over the world. In his spare time, Robb is a tortured novelist, professional entertainer, and wishful world traveler, deciding at one time to visit an entire alphabet of islands (having made it to A, B, C, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, V and W so far). He has been in the creative arts field since he was a teenager, creating original works of art from recycled materials. Robb is lead singer of Knot for Sail and has traveled the U.S. and Caribbean with his band. He graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in journalism and earned his second degree in Communications with an undeclared minor in Sociology.

Alex Harper

Instructional Designer

Alex directs all the digital communications for the Choose Washington brand, including serving as webmaster for several Commerce websites. Before joining our team, Alex served as Advertising Creative Manager for McClatchy Company, overseeing creative and branding standards, managing the creative team and working with internal and external clients on an array of award-winning projects. He has extensive experience managing complex campaigns as well as maximizing the effectiveness of digital assets, including website design, construction and management, information design and analytics. Alex is also a whiz in the graphics department, serving as the go-to guy for ongoing design projects related to the brand. In his spare time, he likes to have his four dogs take him for a walk and engage in amazing creative pursuits that dazzle and mystify his coworkers.

Molly Jay

Linguistics & Dialects Coach

Molly has served in communication leadership roles at Amazon, Microsoft, Politico and the University of Washington where she won the Distinguished Staff Award for standing up multiple proprietary communication platforms in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Molly is a graduate of the University of Kansas and Temple University, a source of great angst during March Madness.

Lynn Longan

Faculty Advisor

Born and raised in rural Washington State, Lynn’s introduction to economic development was in family-owned and operated businesses such as logging, road construction, tree farming and shellfish farming. Lynn brings 20 years of economic development experience to our team. After working for the Department of Commerce in the Economic Development Division for 16 years, she accepted the role of Executive Director of the Economic Development Council in Mason County. Returning to Commerce, Lynn serves as the agency expert responsible for setting the agenda for the state’s economic development strategies for rural and underserved communities. She is responsible for developing and overseeing entrepreneurship programs such as ScaleUp, Thrive!, Global Entrepreneurship Month and other technical assistance, education and training programs and services for entrepreneurs and small businesses, particularly those in rural and underserved communities


Creatives Academy

Main Office


Academy Staff