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Former Washington Employment Security Department head Suzi LeVine leaves job in Biden administration

Aug. 24, 2021 Updated Tue., Aug. 24, 2021 at 7:24 p.m.

Suzi LeVine, formerly Washington state’s Employment Security Department Commissioner, talks Jan. 24, 2019, to reporters at the Capitol in Olympia.  (Ted S. Warren)
Suzi LeVine, formerly Washington state’s Employment Security Department Commissioner, talks Jan. 24, 2019, to reporters at the Capitol in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren)

OLYMPIA – Suzi LeVine, former head of the Washington State Employment Security Department, is stepping down from her role at the U.S. Department of Labor.

LeVine, who took the job in the Biden administration earlier this year, wrote in a LinkedIn post that she is leaving the job to focus more on her family. Her last day was Friday.

“Leaving now is a gut-wrenching decision,” she wrote. “However, my family comes first.”

LeVine, who had been working mostly remote from Seattle, said as in-person work becomes more common, she found the job must be done from Washington, D.C., and commuting weekly from Seattle is “not viable.” However, with a daughter heading into her last two years of high school and an 83-year-old mother, LeVine said relocating to D.C. full time was not an option.

In February, LeVine was appointed to acting assistant secretary at the Employment and Training Administration in the Department of Labor.

Previously, she led the state’s Employment Security Department as it dealt with a backlog of thousands of unemployment claims throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The department also faced a fraud attack that left the state with a nearly $650 million loss, although an audit from the State Auditor’s Office said it could be much larger. Only about $370 million has been recovered from the attack.

Before her role in Washington, LeVine served as a U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as a Microsoft executive.

During her short time at the ETA, LeVine said she felt she accomplished her core objectives coming into the job, including hiring new leaders and staff, expanding some unemployment benefits and setting a foundation for more progress.

LeVine said she will be spending time with her family in the immediate future before determining what’s next.

“Throughout my career, I’ve emphasized and demonstrated that family always comes first,” she wrote.

Bloomberg Law reported Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, an agency official, is replacing LeVine.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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