Spokane Journal of Business

Zentz’s skills suited for new WSU post


  • Print Article

Seeing Kim Zentz transition to the often insular world of academia, after so many years immersed in the free-wheeling, private sector-driven pursuit of economic development and technology innovation, can’t help but evoke a bittersweet reaction.

Zentz, former Spokane civic leader and chief executive officer of the Innovate Washington Foundation, earlier this month was named director of the Washington State University engineering and technology management (ETM) program on its main campus in Pullman. She succeeds longtime director John Ringo, who retired after 42 years with the college.

On the one hand, it’s sad to see her depart from the last of her various positions here over the years through which she sought to ignite an innovation-based subculture. On the other, it’s good to see that she’s staying in Eastern Washington and being handed an opportunity to help build up the state’s technology sector through different means.

Here’s hoping she’ll bring the same unwavering positive energy to that challenge that has displayed in her prior posts, and that WSU provides her the resources to enrich the technology-transfer culture there. Her hiring seems like a smart move by the university, partly because of the private sector-enhanced skill set she’ll bring to the position.

At Innovate Washington, a statewide public-private partnership, Zentz led efforts to reduce fragmentation and to intensify the focus on sector-based results for the state’s technology-based economic development efforts, but the agency suffered from funding issues.

She earlier led the Spokane Intercollegiate Research & Technology Institute, a Washington economic development agency that was merged into Innovate Washington, and had held senior leadership positions at Spokane Transit Authority, Spokane-based Avista Corp., and Avista Laboratories.

She has served on a number of boards and commissions, here and statewide, and on the advisory boards for area engineering programs, including at WSU, the University of Idaho, and Gonzaga University. 

WSU’s ETM program offers master’s degrees in engineering and technology management, as well as graduate certificates for engineering and business professionals. Established in 1982, the program helps professional engineers learn skills in managing projects, people, and technology in the workplace. It was named by US News and World Report among the best online graduate engineering programs for the past two years, WSU says. The program is offered through WSU’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.

In a press release announcing Zentz’s hiring, Voiland College Dean Candis Claiborn said Zentz has been “a longtime and enthusiastic supporter of our programs.” Claiborn added, “She has a keen understanding of this program’s importance in growing and strengthening Washington state’s technology sector. With her leadership, I look forward to watching the program continue to grow and flourish.”

We, too, are eager to see whether Zentz is able to put her own imprint on the program, while not losing sight of the outcome-driven tech sector goals that have defined so much of her career.

  • Staff Report

  • Follow RSS feed for Staff Report

Read More

Sign up for our E-mail updates

including the
Morning Edition

Join our list