For Release: March 31, 2021
OLYMPIA–Gov. Jay Inslee today announced the appointment of Megan Duffy as the new director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO), the largest state agency grantor of funding for outdoor recreation and habitat conservation efforts in Washington. She replaces Kaleen Cottingham, who is retiring and has served the agency since 2007.
Duffy, of Olympia, has more than 20 years of experience working in natural resources in Washington. She has served as the department supervisor for the Washington Department of Natural Resources, where she oversaw the daily operations of the agency and its 1,500 employees. Duffy also was the executive coordinator of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, which is housed in RCO and charged with implementing the state’s salmon recovery strategy. She started her career with Ross Strategic, where she helped local, state and federal agencies develop policies and programs related to a diverse set of environmental issues. She currently is the deputy director of the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board.
“Megan has extensive experience, both in the private sector and public arena, in dealing with the complex environmental issues we face today,” Inslee said. “She understands the value of great outdoor places here in Washington and the importance they play in our economy, the health of our residents and the quality of life we enjoy in this state. I look forward to working with her in this capacity and I thank Kaleen for all her contributions to RCO and our state.”
RCO is a small state agency that awards grants to cities, counties, tribes, nonprofits and state and federal agencies to build and improve parks, trails, boating facilities, water access sites and firearm and archery shooting ranges. The agency also awards grants to preserve working farms and forests and to conserve fish and other wildlife habitat. In addition to supporting the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, the agency staffs three boards: the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, which awards grants for outdoor recreation and conservation of habitat and working lands; the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, which awards grants for projects to recover salmon and their habitat; and the Washington Invasive Species Council, which provides policy-level coordination to prevent new species from establishing in Washington and to tackle those already here.
“Working in the natural resources arena for most of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to see and appreciate the varied and expansive resources, both people and land that make Washington unique,” Duffy said. “The mission of RCO to preserve, restore and enhance these exceptional places and resources is part of the greater effort to improve overall quality of life, all life. Whether it is public health and wellness, social equity, economic health, species preservation or climate change, RCO’s work is a critical piece of it all. This past year only has underscored the importance of conserving our outside spaces.”
“We’re very excited to welcome Megan to the management team,” said Ted Willhite, chair of the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. “She’s smart, understands the issues, and enjoys working with people from a variety of backgrounds to make sure the agency’s policies and investments are balanced. She’ll help us continue to improve our work.”
“Megan’s experience with salmon recovery will be very helpful at this critical juncture,” said Jeff Breckel, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “The state is in the midst of updating its statewide strategy for recovering salmon and it will be great to have someone at the helm that understands the issues.”
Contact: Susan Zemek
Washington Recreation and Conservation Office