Evergreen Magazine

Greener Leads State Ecology Department

Maia BellonIn February, Gov. Jay Inslee promoted Maia Bellon ’91, an expert on water law and policy, to lead the Washington State Department of Ecology. Her selection has been praised in the media as appealing to both political parties.

In announcing her appointment to his executive cabinet, Inslee said Bellon “will be an effective leader in our efforts to work on natural resource and regulatory issues that are of huge importance to many in our state. She brings a keen understanding of key issues such as water management that have implications for both our quality of life and our economy."

According to a news release from Inslee’s office, Bellon will help shepherd a bill addressing water issues in the Yakima River Basin through the Legislature. The bill supports the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan, one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects in the West, which will require balancing agricultural interests with those of environmental groups, tribes and communities.

“Although work in the natural resource arena faces complicated challenges, there are many opportunities we can all work towards,” says Bellon. “Under the governor’s guidance, we will look to shape balanced solutions that preserve the quality of life Washingtonians expect.”

As Ecology’s director, Bellon will guide the agency in its mission “to protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s environment, and to promote the wise management of our air, land and water for the benefit of current and future generations.” Headquartered in Olympia, it employs approximately 1,400 full-time workers and 200 temporary workers in locations across the state.

Prior to being named the agency’s director, Bellon managed Ecology’s Water Resources program, where she oversaw a staff of 130 in sustainably managing the state’s water resources. She began working for Ecology in June 2010 as the program’s deputy program manager.

Before joining the department, she served as an assistant attorney general with the Ecology Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office from 1994 to 2000, providing both client advice and litigation support for Ecology on a broad array of issues ranging from the State Environmental Policy Act to the Public Records Act.

From 2000 to 2001, Bellon was Evergreen President Thomas L. (Les) Purce’s special assistant for Civil Rights and Legal Affairs. She then returned to the Ecology Division of the Attorney General’s Office and focused her practice on water law for the next nine years. She also served on the Executive Committee of the Environmental and Land Use Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association from 2005 to 2010.

Bellon, who earned her J.D. in 1994 from the Arizona State University College of Law, is married to Bill Kallappa ’04. She is the daughter of Rio Lara-Bellon ’93 and the sister of Pablo Bellon ’91.