Gov.-elect Jay Inslee named Renton Schools Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel as his chief of staff in a news conference in Seattle on Thursday morning.
Heuschel, one of three co-chairs of Inslee’s transition team, has led Renton schools for six and a half years and last year was one of four finalists for national superintendent of the year. She also served as deputy superintendent of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for six years.
Inslee pointed to Heuschel’s experience in Renton, particularly her leadership style and use of metrics, as reasons for the choice. He described his selection for the $165,000-a-year job as “about as far away from status quo as you can get.”
“As I looked around, I couldn’t find a better match for what we think the state needs and what I hope to offer as governor,” said Inslee, who called Heuschel a “perfect match for the type of management that we want to bring to the state of Washington.”
The two apparently met a little over a year ago, according to Inslee spokesman Sterling Clifford. Heuschel did not play any formal role in Inslee’s campaign, but he did roll out his education plan at a school in her district.
Heuschel, 51, is a Rhode Island native who began her career as a special education teacher.
Inslee, a Democrat, defeated Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna in a tight race earlier this month. Other Cabinet appointments are expected over the next few weeks.