Gov. Jay Inslee today named Grace Yoo director of the Washington State Women's Commission, effective May 22. She replaces Regina Malveaux, who left the commission in February. Kelly Wicker, the governor's deputy chief of staff, will continue to lead the commission as interim director, until that time.
Yoo currently works for Starbucks, where she is leading the company's efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its retail stores. Her team was recognized by President Biden's administration as part of the Federal Buy Clean initiative.
“Grace is a dynamic leader with experience building coalitions to take on tough challenges in both the public and private sectors. I am confident she will drive innovation and implement policy priorities at the Women's Commission," Inslee said. "This commission's work is a key part of our strategy to continue promoting women's rights, removing barriers to equitable employment opportunities and ensuring that Washington is a place where all women and girls are empowered to achieve their full potential. I am grateful to Kelly for facilitating this transition."
Prior to joining Starbucks, Yoo served as a diplomat with the U.S. Foreign Service, where she covered topics such as human rights and labor issues at American embassies in China, Korea and Germany. In her overseas consular assignments, she advocated for the rights of Americans incarcerated in foreign countries and assisted victims of assault returning home to the United States. Yoo also served in several roles at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., including as an advisor to the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate.
“I am deeply honored to join Governor Inslee’s team," said Yoo. "I look forward to working closely with my Commission staff, our mighty team of nine Commissioners, legislative leaders, and civil society groups to ensure a healthy, safe, and prosperous Washington for every woman and girl in our state.”
Yoo received a bachelor's degree in East Asian studies from UCLA and a master's degree in international and intercultural communications from American University. She grew up in Edmonds, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.