Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell was sworn-in on Jan. 4, and joined by members of his executive team.
A week prior, Harrell announced the latest round of hires joining his administration’s cabinet.
Kendee Yamaguchi will serve as deputy mayor of external affairs. Yamaguchi, a former City employee who currently serves as executive director for Snohomish County, will be tasked with fostering strong and collaborative relationships between the City of Seattle and community groups, nonprofit organizations, and local businesses.
“Over the past several months, I have heard—in transition meetings and on the street, with city leaders and with everyday neighbors—calls for a representative and responsive City government. My executive team and cabinet are being built with that priority front of mind,” said Harrell.
Yamaguchi will help support the City’s COVID response, direct the mayor’s external relations team, and coordinate mayoral priorities around cultural initiatives and events, including in the arts, film, music, sports, job creation, and nightlife sectors.
International Community Health Services (ICHS) President and Chief Executive Officer Teresita Batayola, who was recently named by President Joe Biden to an Advisory Commission, called Yamaguchi “a strong appointment… It’s a recognition of her accomplishments and potential.
What’s even more significant is Mayor Harrrell’s recognition of the diversity and challenges that Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders face as fast growing and influential communities in Seattle.”
And community leader Frank Irigon said Yamaguchi’s appointment is but a first step in the right direction to appoint other highly qualified Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander people. “From police chief to department heads, he knows that all of those positions are on the table, and we have highly qualified people to fill them,” said Irigon.
Former Senior Seattle Deputy Mayor Mike Fong called Yamaguchi “a great bridge between the AAPI community and the new administration. Harrell has assembled an incredibly talented and diverse leadership team.”
Also joining the Harrell administration will be Matt Chan, who will serve as special advisor for public engagement, advising the mayor on the City’s strategic use of digital technology to enhance public engagement, strengthen transparency, and address the digital divide. Chan brings over 45 years of award-winning success in the television industry and has served on the KCTS Board of Directors. His work landed him a spot as one of the few people of color on the Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Top 50 Reality Power Producers’ list.
“I am pleased when people like Matt Chan answer the call of public service to help Seattle reach a new level of meaningful public engagement where all voices are heard,” said Harrell.
“This is a critical part of our vision.”
The current director of Seattle Office for Civil Rights, Mariko Lockhart, will rejoin the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning as a deputy director, where she and Director Dwane Chappelle will continue to drive major equity initiatives and deliver high-quality support to Seattle students.
Harrell said, “The combination of Ms. Lockhart’s previous leadership in education coupled with Mr. Wheeler-Smith’s leadership in equity work will produce outstanding results in our major equity initiatives with education and mentorship being primary components.”