OLYMPIA -- The Liquor and Cannabis Board (Board) today announced the hiring of William N. “Will” Lukela as agency director. He replaces Rick Garza, who is retiring in July after 38 years of state service.
Lukela is currently the Deputy Chief of Licensing for the Colorado Dept. of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division, a position he’s held since 2018. In that capacity, he had oversight, management, supervision, and leadership of licensing staff including criminal and compliance investigators, section managers, licensing specialists, and business analysts assigned to headquarter and regional offices.
“Will’s passion for leadership and his 30 years of regulatory experience, particularly in the enforcement and licensing fields, stood out to the board,” said Chair David Postman. “He prides himself on his demonstrated record of building and maintaining productive relationships with licensees, stakeholders and legislators, which is something the agency values and will continue to under his leadership. Will also showed a passion for team building and is committed to an open and positive relationship with our employees.”
Lukela is experienced in large-scale regulatory initiatives similar to ones underway at Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board. Under his leadership at the Colorado Dept. of Revenue Lukela helped transition the Marijuana Enforcement Division from an enforcement philosophy to a philosophy focused on collaboration, education, and compliance, utilizing progressive discipline when appropriate. In addition, he is committed to, and engaged with, agency diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
“I am very excited to join my new colleagues at the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board,” said Lukela. “As the two pioneering states in the legalization of adult-use cannabis, Washington and Colorado face similar challenges. I will continue to build on the impressive work of the agency across all regulated industries and pledge to work collaboratively with staff and stakeholders to build their trust and support through transparency.
Lukela’s first day at the Liquor and Cannabis Board will be July 10, 2023.
Garza leaves after 10 years as director and 25 years overall at the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
“The board wants to thank Rick for his years of service. He is leaving after 10 years as director and 25 years overall at the agency. The LCB is very much his agency as he steered it through massive changes in scope and responsibilities. Under his leadership as deputy director and later director, he led the successful launch of legalized cannabis, oversaw the privatization of spirits distribution and retail as well as the quick implementation of allowances for licensees during the COVID restrictions that helped impacted licensees continue doing business,” added Postman.
The mission of the Liquor and Cannabis Board is to promote public safety and trust through fair administration, education, and enforcement of liquor, cannabis, tobacco, and vapor laws. Board members are appointed by the governor to staggered six-year terms. The director is hired by the board to lead its approximately 350 employees and run the day-to-day operations of the agency.
Image of William Lukela