Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday announced the appointment of a Kirkland business executive to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.
Ollie A. Garrett, the president and CEO of Bellevue-based debt-collection company PMT Solutions, will fill the seat vacated by Russ Hauge, a Kitsap County prosecuting attorney who resigned in March as the LCB was finalizing rules to merge the state’s medical and adult-use cannabis systems. The appointment is effective Aug. 15.
“Ollie will be a great addition to the board,” LCB Chair Jane Rushford said in a statement Friday. “Her extensive professional network and leadership experience will help us fulfill our mission to serve the public and prepare for the many considerations ahead.”
Garrett was born in Canton, Miss., according to a Puget Sound Business Journal profile, to a family with a “strong entrepreneurial streak.” She started working for her first collection agency in 1987, and though she remembers her boss saying she wasn’t “aggressive enough” to be a debt collector, she eventually became the top performer in the company.
In addition to her leadership role at PMT Solutions, Garrett is also serving her fourth term as president of Tabor 100, an association working to further economic power, educational excellence, and social equity for African-Americans and the community at large. She’s also an at-large appointee of the King County Civil Rights Commission, co-chair of the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises, and an appointed board member for a number of statewide groups.
Questions of racial justice abound in the cannabis industry — from business licenses to arrest rates — and observers will no doubt be curious to see how Garrett’s experience championing social equity translates to her work on the LCB. While some jurisdictions, such as Oakland, Calif., and Ohio, have tried to factor racial equity into how business licenses are distributed, Washington has no such system in place.
Service and entrepreneurship are common themes in descriptions of Garrett. Inslee’s office trumpeted her numerous awards, including the 2014 Women of Valor award from Sen. Maria Cantwell, the 2012 Bellevue Business Professional Women’s Woman of the Year award, and the 2008 Seattle Rotary’s Service Above Self award.
“Ollie will bring extensive experience in business, community and nonprofit leadership to the Liquor and Cannabis Board,” Inslee, a Democrat, said in a press release. “Her strong relationships with communities across Washington will help inform her decisions and enrich the board’s public safety mission.”