WSLCB - Executive Management Team
(October 12, 2022) - DEI and Social Equity Updates


Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at WSLCB were discussed along with the budding social equity program, related community engagement efforts, and request legislation for 2023.

Here are some observations from the Wednesday October 12th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Executive Management Team (EMT) Public Meeting.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Manager Jim Weatherly updated the board on a recent review of literature—including from a former WSLCB board member—and the status of the Pro-Equity, Anti-Racism (PEAR) team at the agency.
    • Weatherly was hired for a position informally called ‘Diversity Manager’ one year earlier in October 2021. His DEI endeavors were mentioned by Deputy Director Toni Hood on April 13th.
    • Weatherly acknowledged that some staff had been reading more about DEI concepts, including a 1999 article updated in May 2021 on White Supremacy Culture - Still Here." He also mentioned looking at a 2021 book by former WSLCB acting chair Merritt D. Long, “My view from the back of the bus,” and lauded several staff members helping to “infuse this work into our agencies” (audio - 10m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
      • A top priority was implementation of the March 21st Executive Order 22-04 on a Washington State Pro-Equity Anti-Racism (PEAR) Plan and Playbook, which Weatherly said led to the formation of a WSLCB PEAR team comprised of representatives from divisions across the agency. Board Member Jim Vollendroff, the board sponsor for the initiative, was “working on how we want to do community stakeholders, how that invite’s going to look, how we want…to put this together.”
    • Board Member Ollie Garrett asked about “community stakeholders” and what involvement with PEAR entailed (audio - 4m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
      • Weatherly said that was “something that other DEI managers are asking amongst ourselves,” but could look like:
        • “a customer perspective” 
        • “other organizations [and] agencies”
        • “feedback about our external facing web pages”
      • “Really the sky's the limit on this in terms of who is welcome at the table,” remarked Weatherly, “we are looking for people that are passionate about DEI-related discussions and you know anything that would infuse or advance what we do here at the LCB in a positive way.” Though feedback “doesn't have to just be the positive,” he added, the input could be “things that we might want to try differently, or things that have been a challenge in the past.”
      • Garrett pointed out that Black Excellence in Cannabis (BEC) member Peter Manning had been calling for transparency at a board meeting earlier that same day, and did "want to actually be at the table" with WSLCB staff. She hoped to be able to invite people who have “a passion about the work we're doing whether it's specific to social equity in cannabis or…being inside the agency and the PEAR, it all comes full circle.” Weatherly answered, “that is exactly where we want to be,” feeling that “relationships are kind of an underlying theme here as well as how we communicate and share information back and forth.”
      • Moreover, he found that because “we don't have community stakeholders” nor “a tribal liaison currently represented,” the PEAR team should be cautious and not “continue moving forward with developing any sort of LCB DEI-related statement because we know that…we're not a fully realized team yet.”
        • On October 25th, an article by Weatherly was published on the WSLCB Medium account indicating, “With guidance from the Washington State Office of Equity, all of state government has initiated a new journey to transform the state’s approach from an intuitive, values-based commitment to one that is more methodical, precise, intentional, and accountable.” Those “interested in joining the LCB PEAR Team” were encouraged to contact Weatherly at or 360.764.3642.
    • In addition to the PEAR team, Weatherly reported that agency staff were looking for diverse experiences in their hiring and would be preparing a DEI “strategic plan” for review by Washington State Office of Equity Assistant Director Carolyn Cole (audio - 3m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
      • Board Chair David Postman requested Weatherly be sure to schedule DEI discussions with board members directly (audio - 1m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
      • Garrett was pleased, finding it “important to engage that external and maybe individuals.” But she said “going through this whole social equity process and talking to stakeholders and being engaged with stakeholders, the number one thing that keeps coming back when I'm talking to people” about equity concerns “is trust, and it's very hard for them to…see what we're doing.” For this reason, Garrett considered DEI work “a good opportunity to get some of those folks from the community involved…because it's gonna include them getting to know employees within the agency.” Weatherly agreed wholeheartedly, “I'm excited about those new relationships and being able to provide that feedback here internally so that we can all grow from it” (audio - 2m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
      • Vollendroff took a few moments as the board representative for PEAR to promise to follow up, seeing “opportunities to engage the community in our work, and I really feel strongly about community participation in public policy.” He thought it was “very clear that we've got people who do want to participate in these conversations. And so, I'll make sure that I represent that at our meetings.” He complimented Weatherly and other staff on their commitment to DEI practices within WSLCB (audio - 2m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
    • Director of Licensing and Regulation Becky Smith touched on “recruitment outreach” to find a “diverse pool of applicants.” This was especially true, she said, “for licensing we do want to…represent the community and so we have, we've reached out to it's called ‘The Fact[s].’ It's actually a paper we're going to be posting in. It's been operating since 1961 as the first black newspaper in the Pacific Northwest….I just think that any way that we…can reach out in a different way to our community of color, we need to take advantage of that” (audio - 3m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
      • Garrett encouraged Smith to consider posting similar ads in The Seattle Medium, “if you're doing The Facts you should do The Medium.” She also wondered whether the advertising would be online and “are we looking outside of previous state agency government experience,” as she’d seen that be a barrier for people open to working at WSLCB in the past. Smith claimed that the human resources department within the agency would be “looking at different ways and different places…to post positions” and evaluate what experience would be needed in a role with the agency (audio - 3m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
  • Director of Licensing and Regulation Becky Smith had new information about social equity contractors, disproportionately impacted area (DIA) mapping, and the equity task force.
    • Smith talked about the process for awarding an agency contract for a third-party to vet equity applications. After receiving three bids, they awarded the contract to Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer P.A. (QPWB). Smith elaborated, “They identify as the largest minority and women owned law firm in the country. They have experience working with local, state, and federal agencies to develop comprehensive programs to engage minority owned contractors. In addition, the firm has a cannabis law group that provides guidance on the cannabis law in Illinois.” She anticipated hearing from them “at the end of this month, they will be providing us with the roadmap, with the documents, and workshop information, and…help us with communication. And so we're going to be setting up a meeting with our communication division as well just to talk about outreach” and being more “purposeful” in that regard (audio - 3m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
      • Garrett called the selection of QPWB “great,” but wished it had been communicated earlier, based on public comments expressing surprise that the announcement was confined to a page amidst their social equity resources. She wished the board had been “proactive” in sharing “who was selected” and why. Smith promised that Communications Director Brian Smith and his team were “working on…getting that information out to a bigger group of folks” (audio - 1m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
      • Several QPWB partners spoke on a 2018 Marijuana Law Seminar panel in Chicago sponsored by Defense Research Institute (DRI).
    • Smith affirmed that "we are making progress" on DIAs even though “it feels like we're in the sand.” She assured board members that court data from King County would be forthcoming “by the end of this month.” She claimed there was “some difficulty in getting the 1980 data, because it is 1980 data.” She relayed that University of Washington (UW) and agency IT staff were considering “geomapping” and there were many “resources going into the development of the DIAs” even as it was “a little bit, certainly, out of our expertise.” Smith remarked that “we're hopeful that we'll have something to show for this soon…we're shooting for November, but that might be a little too aggressive.” Nonetheless, she promised “interactive” mapping so that “an applicant should be able to put in their address and if they live there 1980, go to the 1980 map and they'll be able to see whether or not that area was in DIA. Or in 2000, see if that was a DIA, or in 2010.” The maps would be used to help prospective social equity applicants know whether they could qualify based on prior DIA residency, added Smith (audio - 2m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
    • Smith informed the board that WA Commerce representatives had been communicating with WSLCB Program Specialist for Social Equity Sarah Davis and the department would publish a request for proposals (RFP) for social equity licensee mentors. Additionally, she mentioned a bulletin regarding updated web resources from the department on the mentor program were from a company called Make Green Go! Smith relayed that the company had done work in other states around “training that's going to be available for the application…we'll be doing videos and we'll be having just the walk through information, the modules that folks will be able to use as well, and have a, the process of what a social equity plan looks like” (audio - 3m, WSLCB video, TVW video).
    • She added that they “have had some struggles” working with Washington State Business Licensing Services (WA BLS), but “we've come through in a good place…so we don't have local fees.” Smith clarified that equity applicants would likely “know where they're going to be putting their business at and where they would be applying is probably their home address.” In order to avoid “added on fees” related to opening a business, they’d struck an agreement with WA BLS and “they're not going to be charging those fees when the application window does open.”

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