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Governor Inslee appoints Dennis McLerran as chair of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council

This is a reprint of a press release from the Puget Sound Partnership.


MEDIA CONTACT: Kevin Hyde, 360.819.3045,

OLYMPIA — Governor Jay Inslee has appointed Dennis McLerran as chair of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council, the governing body of the Puget Sound Partnership. McLerran has served as the vice chair of the Leadership Council since December 2021. Jay Manning, chair of the Leadership Council since December 2016, has stepped down from the Leadership Council.

“Dennis’s decades of environmental leadership will help bring together the local, state, federal and Tribal partnerships that are so crucial to our collective success,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “I appreciate his willingness to serve as chair of PSP’s Leadership Council at a time of tremendous urgency and opportunity. I also want to thank Jay for his service on the council. He has been a great champion for Puget Sound restoration and positioned the council to be effective in this complex work.”

“I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to take on this role with the Puget Sound Partnership and its many partners,” McLerran said. “This is a critical time to take bold actions to save our salmon and orca populations and restore Puget Sound’s health and productivity. The challenges of climate change and past habitat loss are extreme but we have significant new opportunities before us. Adoption of the Climate Commitment Act by the Legislature, funding for Governor Inslee’s salmon recovery strategy and new funding for critical pollution control and other infrastructure under the federal Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Act create unprecedented opportunities for positive action. We and our state, federal, tribal, and local partners must direct these funds wisely to enhance Puget Sound’s restoration and recovery and to create climate resilience. I look forward to working with Laura Blackmore and her staff, the other members of the Leadership Council and our many recovery partners to act wisely and decisively.”

McLerran served as the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10, which encompasses Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and Pacific Northwest Indian Country from 2010 until January 2017. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Stockholm Environment Institute U.S., a research affiliate of Tufts University specializing in sustainable development and environmental issues. His previous experiences include serving as executive director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the regional air quality agency for King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties; president of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies; and chairman of the Land Use and Environmental Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association. He holds a law degree from Seattle University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the University of Washington.

Manning departs the Leadership Council after nine years of service.

“I can think of few things that are more important than saving Puget Sound,” Manning said. “I grew up on the Sound, fishing, clamming, and cruising around Blake Island and the waters of south Kitsap County. I’ve worked hard to protect and restore Puget Sound since I started my career almost 40 years ago now. We have lots more work to do, but working with the Leadership Council, staff at the Partnership, and all of the other hard-working, dedicated people focused on saving Puget Sound has been one of the great pleasures of my life.”

Manning has been working on restoring Puget Sound for most of his career. Currently a partner with Cascadia Law Group, he spent many years working for the State of Washington, first in the Ecology Division of the Washington Attorney General’s Office and later as director of the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology). During his time at Ecology, he made Puget Sound restoration one of the agency’s highest priorities. Gov. Gregoire also appointed Manning to co-chair, with Bill Ruckelshaus and Billy Frank Jr., the original Puget Sound Partnership – the group that recommended the creation of the Partnership as a state agency. Later, as chief of staff for Gov. Gregoire’s administration, he worked hard to maintain the administration’s focus on Puget Sound as the state went through the recession. He has a degree in political science from Eastern Washington University and earned his law degree from the University of Oregon.

“Working with Jay and Dennis has been one of the privileges of my career. Jay’s experience in state government and his drive toward bold action have helped shape the Partnership and the future of Puget Sound recovery. I will miss him greatly!” said Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “At the same time, I’m honored and delighted that Dennis McLerran has agreed to serve as Chair. His extensive experience and ability to bring people together will help us take best advantage of this pivotal time for Puget Sound recovery.”

McLerran’s term as chair runs to June 25, 2026. The Leadership Council elected member Will Hall as the new vice chair.


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