Gov. Inslee names Employment Security Department head

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee has named Cami Feek commissioner of the state’s Employment Security Department.

Last year, the department temporarily suspended unemployment benefits payments after discovering that criminals had used stolen Social Security numbers and other personal information to file fraudulent claims.

Feek’s appointment, announced Wednesday, comes following her appointment as acting commissioner in February when the agency’s former leader, Suzi LeVine, left to work for the Biden administration. LeVine had previously served as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Feek served as acting commissioner in 2018, before LeVine was appointed, and as deputy commissioner and chief operating officer for the past three years.

She was hired to the agency as the first program director of the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, overseeing the successful launch of the nation’s first state paid leave program, Inslee’s office said.

Inslee said he first worked with Feek related to the paid leave program and was impressed with her knowledge, compassion and ability to work with a variety of divergent stakeholders.

“Her leadership through the COVID pandemic and strong advocacy on behalf of ESD employees, claimants and job-seekers has further demonstrated her ability to move ESD into a new phase,” Inslee said.

In 2020, officials disclosed that $650 million had likely been stolen in a fraud scheme that law enforcement officials said was partly based in Nigeria.

Nigerian citizen Abidemi Rufai was arrested in May and has been accused of stealing more than $350,000 in unemployment benefits. Federal officials have called it the first “significant” arrest in that fraud.

Rufai’s attorney, Michael C. Barrows, said previously his client “denies any involvement in these transactions.”

Washington was among the first of dozens of states hit by fraud that siphoned off billions of dollars in federal aid meant for pandemic victims. Washington state officials have said $300 million paid to criminals has been recovered.

Feek said Wednesday she sees the appointment as a unique opportunity to lead a team committed to making real progress for people in communities across Washington — at a time it is most needed.

“There is no doubt that it has been a difficult time for all of us, and I go into this role with my eyes wide open,” she said. The Employment Security Department “is a continuous learning organization, and I am committed to applying all we’ve learned in this crisis to increasing equitable access to our many services and improving the experience for our customers.”

Feek also founded the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group at the Department, winning the agency the Outstanding Agency Award from the Rainbow & Inclusion Network.

Feek has worked in state government for more than 25 years in entry to executive level positions. She earned her bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College.

More in News

Jefferson County back to moderate risk

New Clallam outbreak has 13 positives

David Scott Johnson
Arson, crash incident two-county case

Gas station employee puts out spreading fire

Gone with the Wind, with a Port Angeles crew, arrived first in the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) B class in the Pacific Northwest Offshore Yacht Race. (Rebecca Close)
Peninsula team first in its class in yacht race

Port Angeles hosts awards ceremony after 193-mile route

The heavy-lift vessel Zhen Hua, loaded with massive tower cranes and bound for the Port of Seattle, passes by the city of Port Townsend in the early Sunday morning. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Towering above the sea

The heavy-lift vessel Zhen Hua, loaded with massive tower cranes and bound… Continue reading

Tia Berson, left, and Chloe Mandeville take a selfie just before their march onto the field at Crescent High School for graduation ceremonies Saturday afternoon. There were 12 members of Crescent's Class of 2021: Katelyn Baar, Brendan Bergstrom, Tia Berson, James Bruch, Ashley Girard, Lael Harris, Justin Irving, Zach Irving, Darren Lee, Chloe Mandeville, Wyatt Mattix and Colton O’Neel. There was no designated valedictorian this year. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Clallam County graduates: Oh, the places they’ll go

Tia Berson, left, and Chloe Mandeville take a selfie just before their… Continue reading

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News

Mortar board art display on Chimacum graduating seniors during a ceremony at Memorial Field on Saturday in Port Townsend.
Jefferson County seniors 2021: Oh, they places they’ll go

Chimacum graduating seniors display their creative side with mortar board art display… Continue reading

Change in tactics to tackle COVID beginning

Officials going from pandemic to endemic

Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News 

Nathalie Ballou sends her son Pierre Ballou, 19, off to graduate from Port Townsend High School on Friday night. Ceremonies for Chimacum and Quilcene high school graduating seniors were on Saturday. To view ceremonies online, see for Port Townsend, for Chimacum and for Quilcene.
PHOTO GALLERY: Jefferson County graduates take the stage

Port Townsend High School held its graduation Friday evening. Ceremonies for Chimacum… Continue reading

Most Read