HSSA Executive Director Ashe to Retire

HSSA Executive Director Ashe to Retire

Replacement Search Begins Immediately

Spokane, WA – The Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County announced that its long-time Executive Director Susan Ashe will retire this year. A committee has been formed to begin the search for HSSA’s next Executive Director. Former Board Chair Nancy Isserlis will lead the search committee, and more details about the position and process are forthcoming.

“The HSSA board is grateful for Susan’s incredible commitment to our greater Spokane community,” said Jason Thackston, HSSA Board Chair. “Her contributions to Spokane are numerous throughout her career in both private and public local organizations, and the Spokane community has been served well. Susan has set a strong foundation for HSSA as we seek an Executive Director who will continue that great work.”

Ashe, the founder and CEO of Ashe Public Affairs, was hired following a consultancy as an “Acting” Executive Director when the HSSA was created by the state and county and formed in early 2009. She established the organization in the community and created its initial health sciences research programs and process for grants, the first of which were issued in May 2009. In 2012, after a public search, Ashe was hired as Executive Director. Ashe led the reauthorization of the HSSA by the Washington Legislature in 2019 for an additional 15 years beginning in 2023.

During her tenure, HSSA invested over $8 million in research and infrastructure grant investments in Spokane County. Additionally, HSSA has invested nearly $4 million in its annual “Access to Care” grants to promote public health, including public health during early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. HSSA has created hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, assisted bringing to Spokane millions of dollars of extramural grant funding, and created over $100 million in total economic activity. In addition, HSSA assists start-up health and life sciences companies with grant-writing funds.

Susan Ashe served Spokane in major public affairs positions over 45 years, including at Kaiser Aluminum for 24 years as Regional Public Affairs Manager. In addition to government affairs, Ashe provided strategic communications and media activities related to the company’s operations in the region. She successfully led a community team to ensure the EPA’s proposed PM-10 air quality non-attainment proposal recognized the impact of airborne dust from west of the city that saved millions of dollars and improved air quality, northwest energy matters, day-to-day communications/media support to the three major plants in Spokane and Tacoma, and during a two-year labor dispute.

In 2003, Ashe was hired by then Mayor John Powers to serve in his administration in government and public affairs. She served four mayors – Powers, West, Hession and Verner -- over nearly six years. Notable accomplishments include passing a $117 million street bond to address Spokane’s street maintenance needs at that time, and raising nearly $125 million in state and federal grants for many projects in the community, including completing the Monroe and Freya streets bridge repairs, Fish Lake Trail, movement of Trent Avenue through the University District and renaming it Spokane Falls Boulevard, funding the extension of gigapop high-speed broadband from Seattle to Spokane, and design money for the new pedestrian bridge connecting WSU property on the main campus over the railroad to the southside where the Catalyst Building and other valuable projects have developed.

Questions about the HSSA Executive Director position may be referred to Susan Ashe at susan@hssaspokane.org. Additional information from the Search Committee will be forthcoming.

HSSA Board members include Jason Thackston, Board Chair, Senior VP Energy Resources, Avista Corp.; Carla Cicero, President/CEO, Numerica Credit Union; Daryll DeWald, Ph.D, VP WSU Health Sciences and Chancellor, WSU Spokane; Allison Glasunow, Ph,D & Attorney, Director, Patent Counsel, Sana Biotechnology Inc.; Kevin Oldenburg, Ph.D. CEO/President, 2nd Sight Bioscience; Darryl Potyk, M.D., UW/GU Regional Director of Medical Education; David J. Vachon, Ph.D, CEO/Founder, Iasis Molecular Sciences, Francisco Velazquez, M.D., Director, Spokane Regional Health District, and Mike Wilson, Consultant and former Providence Health CEO.