Mark Asmundson, who stressed excellence in working to protect local air quality and public health, will retire as the Northwest Clean Air Agency’s executive director on Dec. 31.
Asmundson became executive director in 2006 and quickly focused on providing fast, high-quality air permit decisions and on building staff resources to meet that goal. Prior to becoming executive director, Asmundson, a Bellingham native, served on the Bellingham City Council for 9 years and as Bellingham’s mayor from 1996 to 2006. He was also a Northwest Clean Air board member while he was mayor.
The current Northwest Clean Air board of directors officially accepted Asmundson’s retirement notice at its Aug. 11 meeting.
“The agency has been blessed to have him as Executive Director. He genuinely cares about the community he serves, and the people who work under him,” said Richard Hannold, Northwest Clean Air board chairman. “I thank Mark for his leadership, guidance and commitment, but above all for his friendship, wishing nothing but the best for him and his family as he begins his well-deserved retirement.”
Asmundson said he sought to raise the stature and professionalism of the agency’s operations by making “an absolute commitment to excellence in everything we do.”
“We have the right people with the right training and right tools” to benefit public health by protecting the air that local residents breathe, he said.
Under Asmundson’s leadership, Northwest Clean Air built its strategic capability and accountability, increased public transparency, and established a sound, sustainable economic foundation.
“It’s been a great success. I’m very proud of the outstanding work of our highly qualified and committed staff,” he said.
Asmundson has been a board member of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), the national organization of state and local air pollution control agencies. He serves as co-chair of the training committee for the group.
He said participating in NACAA gave him insight into air quality challenges throughout the nation and into how similar issues could be addressed in Northwest Clean Air’s jurisdiction.
Asmundson plans to move permanently to Henderson, Nev., to join his family.
Chairman Hannold said, “I consider him not as just a business associate but as a close friend, and I will miss him very much. However, as Mark departs from the Agency, he does so secure in the knowledge that he is leaving us positioned well for the future in the competent hands and leadership of a well-tutored successor.”
The board of directors appointed Mark Buford, Northwest Clean Air deputy director, as the agency’s new executive director effective Jan. 1, 2017.
Buford has held several positions with the agency since he started in 2001 as an engineer. He has bachelor and master’s degrees in engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The agency does not plan to fill the deputy director’s position at this time.
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The Northwest Clean Air Agency is responsible for enforcing federal, state and local air quality regulations in Island, Skagit, and Whatcom counties. In addition to permitting and regulating industrial sources of air pollution, the agency provides services and information related to asbestos, indoor air quality, outdoor burning, woodstoves and fireplaces. More information about the agency is available at www.nwcleanairwa.gov.