Liquor Control Board appoints Rick Garza as Agency Director

Term begins June 1, 2013

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) today announced that it had unanimously chosen Rick Garza to serve as its next agency director. The agency director leads the day-to-day operations of the agency.

Garza replaces current director Pat Kohler who was recently appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to lead the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Garza currently serves as the WSLCB deputy director, where he leads the agency’s policy, legislation and media relations. He also serves as its legislative and tribal liaison. Garza has been with the Liquor and Cannabis Board since 1997.

“Rick was a clear and unanimous choice by the board,” said Board Chair Sharon Foster. “Rick’s leadership on policy, legislative and tribal matters has been instrumental to the agency’s successes. He is regarded by stakeholders and legislators as an expert on many issues and is frequently called upon to help find solutions to difficult challenges.”

“We also thank Pat Kohler for her outstanding leadership of the agency since 2002,” continued Foster. “We wish her great success in her new position.”

Gov. Jay Inslee lauded the Board’s choice for agency director.

“I have known Rick for many years and I'm thrilled the board selected him to lead the agency,” said Inslee. “He is a creative leader and a team player and I have full confidence in his ability to lead the agency during this important time.”

The WSLCB is drafting the rules that, together with Colorado, will govern the world’s only comprehensive systems of growing, processing and retailing marijuana for recreational use. The agency expects to begin accepting license applications in September.

Garza also serves as the current president of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA). The NCSLA consists of both private and state-controlled alcohol retail and distribution systems representing several states. In general, the NCSLA seeks to promote:

  •  effective and equitable state and federal alcohol legislation and policy;
  •  best alcohol enforcement practices and policy;
  •  uniformity between the state and federal government on alcohol policy; and
  •  uniformity among the states on alcohol policy.


Garza’s one-year term as NCSLA president concludes in June 2013.

Prior to joining the Liquor Control Board, Rick served 13 years as a staff member for the Washington State Legislature, including five years with the Washington State Senate and eight years with the state House. His legislative assignments included policy analyst in the state Senate, House of Representatives staff director, and adviser to House and Senate leadership.




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