Meet the Staff

The academy staff knows a thing or two about starting a successful business. Sure, some of our staff could find a way to burn water in the kitchen, but this academy isn’t about being a great cook; it’s about being a smart business owner. The staff’s expertise in this area has been invaluable in starting this academy and we thank them for their dedication to helping Washington businesses grow and prosper.

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.

A chef flips chopped vegetables as she sautes them.
Food Biz Academy

Our Staff

The Food Biz Academy is a labor of love for the staff. Some are amateur cooks; others love to eat. Everyone, however, is dedicated to helping residents across the state turn their passion into a business, whether its a home-based Cottage Food operation or a five-star restaurant. 

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. During that time, he designed more than 200 websites for a roster of high profile clients. 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). At one time, he thought he was an amazing cook. Then, his wife graduated from a culinary program. 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


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.


Food Biz Academy

Main Office


Academy Staff