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Mayor Bruce Harrell Announces Strategic Leadership Change at Seattle City Light

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that Seattle City Light (SCL) General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Debra Smith will transition into an advisory position with the utility to evaluate the utility’s long term strategic directions and structure. Smith will transition to the new role in July and will retire before the end of the year. Mayor Harrell has begun a national search for the utility’s next permanent general manager and chief executive officer.  

“Seattle City Light is one of our most prominent departments – as an essential utility, it touches the lives of every resident in every neighborhood and elevates Seattle’s position as a regional and national leader in the field of clean energy and electricity,” said Mayor Harrell. “As we commence a nationwide search for Seattle City Light’s next leader, we will seek a champion for innovation and organizational management to develop a cutting-edge modern utility, internally and externally. Seattle City Light’s next general manager must have the experience and focus to prioritize customer experience, affordability, and creative climate action, along with building a departmental culture centered on accountability and equity.” 

Mayor Harrell continued, “Through a pandemic and challenging times, Debra’s leadership at Seattle City Light helped keep the power on for residents across our city and delivered millions in utility assistance programs for residents most in need. This advisory role will create new opportunities to apply her technical expertise and drive improvements for Seattle City Light customers.”  

As she transitions to an advisory role starting in July, Smith will apply 27 years of experience in the utility field and over four years as CEO of Seattle City Light to provide guidance on discrete projects supporting quality and efficient utility programs, affordable rates, and additional service improvements benefitting customers. 

“I love Seattle City Light and the City of Seattle. So proud to have served during such a challenging time and I feel like City Light is in amazingly capable hands,” said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Smith. “It’s time for me to move on to my next chapter. My family is growing (Grandkids – thank goodness – 7 years, 6 months, and ‘under construction’) and I am blessed with two daughters-in-law who want me around. I’ve always tried to put family first and I realize we each get to decide what that means. I’ve decided that means I need to be closer to home and more available to family. I feel fortunate that the City is supporting my decision and I’ve got a lot of work to do before flipping that page!”