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Key appointments at the Utilities and Transportation Commission

UTC restructuring internal programs and making key leadership appointments 

 

LACEY, Wash. - The Utilities and Transportation Commission today announced appointments to several key leadership positions.

Jason Lewis will direct the commission’s legislative and government affairs program, with responsibility for state, federal, and tribal relations. Lewis has more than eight years of experience at the UTC and an extensive background in transportation policy, public affairs, and legislation, most recently serving as the commission’s legislative liaison. 

Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Sociology from Central Washington University. 

Melissa Cheesman will serve as assistant director of the UTC’s policy team, which provides advice to the commission on ratemaking, policy, and other regulatory matters. Cheesman has over 10 years of experience at the UTC, most recently serving as a senior accounting and policy advisor. Cheesman participates in the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) as a coach for accounting and ratemaking through NARUC’s Rate School, a member of the Accounting and Finance Subcommittee, and Performance-Based Regulation state workgroup. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Financial Research Institute at the University of Missouri.  

Cheesman holds a Master of Professional Accounting and Bachelor of Arts in Business with a focus on Accounting from the Seattle University Albers School of Business and Economics. 

Michael Howard will serve as assistant director of the Administrative Law Division, which manages the commission’s adjudications, open meetings, and other dockets, and supports the preparation of the commission’s orders. Judge Howard joined the UTC in 2020 as an administrative law judge, having previously worked as assistant regional counsel and special assistant U.S. Attorney for the Social Security Administration for more than 11 years. 

Howard holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Washington School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, also from the University of Washington.

Rayne Pearson, who has served as director of the Administrative Law Division since 2018, will assume additional duties as director of the Policy Division on a temporary basis while the commission conducts an assessment of its ongoing staffing needs. 

Judge Pearson has more than a decade of experience at the UTC and holds a Juris Doctorate from Seattle University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Women’s Studies, and African-American History from New York University. 

The UTC regulates the rates and services of household goods movers; passenger transportation companies; investor-owned electric, natural gas, garbage, and water utilities; landline telecommunications companies; garbage haulers; commercial ferries; pipeline companies; marine pilotage; and a low-level radioactive waste repository.   

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