New Hanford Advisory Board chairman named

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldNovember 3, 2012 

A former college dean who is a frequent volunteer living in Portland was elected Friday as the new chairman of the Hanford Advisory Board.

Steve Hudson will assume leadership of the board from Susan Leckband, who faced a term limit at the end of six years as chairwoman.

The board is made up of representatives from diverse groups -- including local governments, organized labor, Hanford nonunion workers, tribes, public health, environmental groups and civic groups. Members reach consensus on advice for Department of Energy and its regulators on environmental cleanup at Hanford.

Hudson represents Hanford Watch, an Oregon-based group, on the board and has been chairman of the board's Public Involvement and Communication Committee. He recently served as board vice chairman after expressing interest in leading the board.

He was the only board member nominated as chairman who agreed to serve. His election was unanimous.

"I have been stunned by the spectacular maturity shown here," Hudson said.

Members have fostered and encouraged diversity on the board, he said.

Board members with sometimes opposite views -- including pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear -- have learned to calmly find issues they agree on in order to reach consensus on written advice offered to DOE and its regulators.

The board has earned a reputation for developing positions that are not always popular, Hudson said.

Hudson was an English instructor, department chairman, then division dean for liberal arts and mathematics at Portland Community College's Cascade Campus from 1966 to 2006. He has experience working with budgets, people and communities to address sensitive issues, he said.

He's served as assistant director for a high school soccer program, a library advisory board member and a volunteer on teacher and student tutoring groups. Those positions and work on advisory committees related to his college positions have allowed him to work with gifted people struggling to solve difficult problems in a way that satisfies a demanding public, he said in his application.

He plans to make frequent trips to the Tri-Cities, as some previous board leaders who lived outside the Tri-Cities have done. The unpaid position requires up to 20 hours of work per week.

Leckband, who represented nonunion and nonmanagement Hanford employees on the board before she became chairwoman, plans to stay on the board and will fill in as interim vice chairwoman as a nominating committee finds candidates.

"What a privilege it has been to serve all of you and Hanford cleanup," Leckband said. "I've loved it."

Agency representatives and board members praised her leadership.

"You have tended the board's business with grace and diligence and have led board meetings with humor, kindness and persistence," Ted Sturdevant, Washington State Department of Ecology director, wrote in a letter.

"Under your tutelage, the board has been able to work through a wide spectrum of issues that often had contentious opinions on all sides," he added.

She also was an advocate for the board in other venues, such as writing opinion pieces for the Herald, and speaking at regional and national meetings, and to students, he wrote.

In one way, Hudson may have a difficult time measuring up.

Leckband baked often, and she shared the treats.

"I look forward to Steve being chairman," said board member Bob Parks. "He's no Betty Crocker, but I think we can help him with that."

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