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.

Shannon Halberstadt

Dean of the Creatives Academy

As Creative Economy Sector Lead for the Department of Commerce, Shannon cultivates partnerships and policy to grow creative businesses and jobs in Washington State. Shannon brings decades of experience supporting Washington State’s creative workers and creative businesses, including leadership roles with Artist Trust, Spokane Arts, The Recording Academy (GRAMMYs), and The Vera Project. She’s sat on numerous Boards and Commissions such as Whipsmart!, Inspire Washington, Seattle Music Commission, and Seattle Center Advisory Commission. When she’s not at work, you’ll likely find Shannon traveling, swimming, hiking, hunting down the best restaurants, or enjoying live music and cultural events.

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 and has managed to get paid for his work in 43 different creative categories, from playwright to event producer. 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.

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