The Port of Olympia is governed by elected commissioners who help shape ongoing policies and objectives. Jasmine Vasavada, Maggie Sanders and Sarah Tonge are the three newest commissioners and are excited for a chance to work together for the benefit of Thurston County residents, visitors and businesses.

For the first time in its 101-year history, the Port has five commissioners instead of three. Commissioners represent geographic districts within the county, so additional members mean greater representation in decision-making.

Jasmine Vasavada represents the Port of Olympia’s District 1 and is one of three fresh, new Commissioners eager to help shape policies and objectives. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

Jasmine Vasavada: District One

Jasmine Vasavada has experience in both law and state-level economic development and infrastructure. She is excited about her role as Commissioner. “It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help our Port embrace a sustainable future,” she shares. “Ports are such a unique and special local government in Washington, empowered to support public and private partnerships that help our communities thrive.”

Having policy development experience is also a tremendous benefit. She hopes this experience will bring value to the commission and help them come up with solutions that benefit everyone.

Like the Deschutes Estuary restoration, for example. “If we partner together, the Port of Olympia with Department of Enterprise Services, Squaxin Island Tribe and the City of Olympia,” says Vasavada, “we can recruit the resources we need to not only benefit our environment and create a one-of-a-kind natural sanctuary for recreation and wildlife, but also help our downtown attract more business and economic opportunity.”

Learn more about her plans at JasmineV@portolympia.com.

Maggie Sanders of District 4 hopes to foster sustainability, environmental stewardship and collaboration. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

Maggie Sanders: District Four

An Olympia native and graduate of The Evergreen State College, Maggie Sanders has a long career in public service. She was drawn to this newly formed commission seat with hopes of building a stronger, more sustainable local economy. Especially one that incorporates environmental stewardship, partnerships and collaboration, and living family wage jobs.

“I bring a variety of experience working on numerous climate change projects,” says Sanders. In this regard, she has worked on everything from the grassroots level to representing Region 10 Tribes as an Executive Committee member of the National Tribal Air Association.

For 2024, Sanders is excited for the Port’s project that will begin to address the Budd Inlet clean-up. “The collaboration with The Evergreen State College is an amazing partnership for Master of Environmental Studies (MES) students to be involved with,” she says. “It’s a great step forward and makes progress in the Port’s commitment to clean-up efforts and environmental stewardship.” Email Sanders at MaggieS@portolympia.com to learn more.

District 5’s Sarah Tonge has a technology background and can spot IT trends that might be beneficial to the Port’s ongoing economic development. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

Sarah Tonge: District Five

Like Sanders, Sarah Tonge is a long-time Olympia resident. She was also drawn to the Port with an eye for environmental protection and cleaning up our iconic Budd Inlet. Tonge believes that adding the two additional representative seats allows for greater collaboration within the commission and for more availability to engage with local community partners.

Tonge hopes to bring her experience and previous training to benefit the Port’s ongoing and future goals. “My technology background is my unique skill set and I will use this perspective to offer insights on IT topics and upcoming trends,” she explains. “I’m interested in implementing broadband and how the CHIPS and Science Act could bring tech manufacturing here.”

Commissioners also work to choose and appoint the Port’s executive director. Tonge acknowledges that finding the right person continues to be job one so they settle into their new role well. You can reach Sarah at SaraT@portolympia.com with questions.

Supporting the Port of Olympia builds Strong Economies and a Bright Future

Perhaps Vasavada sums it up best. Working on behalf of the Port is crucial. Especially because it fosters “building relationships across our community and partnering to build community-centered infrastructure that keeps Thurston County on the list of greatest places to live and work.”

She hopes this new team of five commissioners can share their “superpowers” more directly. “We’ve got a professional real estate attorney, a CEO of tribal enterprises for Nisqually, an IT professional, an HR expert, and whatever I am,” she says. “It’s a nice mix and any two of us can actually sit down over a cup of coffee and get to know each other, starting to build up a reserve of trust that will be very important, as we work to unite a community that has been divided, and support the port’s workforce under a new executive director.”

Follow them on their mission via the Port Commission’s homepage, where you’ll find a current topics of interest, a meeting schedule, videos, agendas and minutes, planning updates and links to the Citizens Advisory Committee. There is also a place to submit public comment and testimony regarding upcoming meeting topics.

The Port of Olympia provides some of our greatest landmarks, festivals and events and economic benefits. Help them celebrate by welcoming three new faces to the Port’s Commission for a stronger, brighter future for everyone.


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