Lisa has been involved with Spokane since 1980 when she became an Associate Professor of Economics at Eastern Washington University. She has since been involved in community organizations advocating for working families, petitioning for dental benefits for low-income people, marching in the first Spokane Pride Parade, and organizing the first “Take Back The Night” Rally in Spokane to bring awareness to victims of domestic violence.
She also helped educate the next generation of leaders as an associate professor in Gonzaga University's master of organizational leadership program.
In addition to her academic career, Lisa was a citizen legislator for 20 years, representing the Third Legislative District, first in the state House of Representatives and then in the state Senate. She was elected by her peers as Senate Minority Leader in 2002 and, in 2005, became the first Democratic woman in state history to hold the position of Senate Majority Leader. As Senate Majority Leader, she worked to strengthen and diversify the regional economy, clean up the Spokane River, and create jobs in industries from aerospace to film.
Lisa also served as the Chancellor of Washington State University’s Spokane health sciences campus, and led the development of WSU’s rapidly growing center for health sciences education and research. Her collaboration with community partners led to the establishment of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, expanding health care where it's needed most while providing transformative economic development for Spokane.
Most recently, Lisa served as the Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce where under her leadership, Commerce developed the Small Business Resiliency Network, supported broadband expansion to underserved communities and dramatically expanded investments into affordable housing development. She also spearheaded state business recruitment and economic development initiatives and worked to rebuild supply chains disrupted by the pandemic.
As an economist, educator, civic leader, and former state legislator, Lisa has used her skills and relationships to get big things done for Spokane, bringing resources and investments to the city and the region for decades. She loves this city for its people, neighborhoods, potential and quality of life, including abundant access to nature.
On the weekends, you can find Lisa hiking and biking with her husband Brian across the many trails in the region or enjoying one of Spokane’s parks with her grandson Blaze. She appreciates the fantastic culinary and cultural offerings of the city, especially live music when her son, Lucas Brookbank Brown, is on the stage. Lisa has lived as a renter or homeowner in all four quadrants of the city and is currently a resident of the West Central Neighborhood.