Heather Hirotaka named Washington State Archivist

OLYMPIA — Secretary of State Steve Hobbs has appointed Heather Hirotaka, a longtime public servant, as the next Washington State Archivist, effective July 5, 2022.

Hirotaka will oversee Washington State Archives, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State (OSOS) that collects and preserves the state’s historical records and makes them available to the public, including researchers, historians, educators, students, journalists, and government agencies. With branches in Bellevue, Bellingham, Cheney, Ellensburg, and Olympia, the State Archives offers local, dedicated research and customer service, and records-management education and training.

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-44
Steve Hobbs

Hirotaka is the first woman to serve as Washington State Archivist. She joined the OSOS in 2017, and in 2018 was named Director of Community Programs, overseeing Legacy Washington, the Combined Fund Drive, and the Address Confidentiality Program. Prior to joining the OSOS, she worked at the Thurston County Auditor’s office where, as Licensing and Recording Manager, she oversaw the public permanent archival records.

“Heather’s unique experience and expertise make her the ideal leader to enhance Washington State Archives’ culture of service and further our commitment to preserve and share Washington’s history,” said Secretary Hobbs.

“Every day has a story and becomes part of our legacy; how we preserve it matters,” Hirotaka said. “Washington State Archives works to ensure that our unique and diverse history is captured and accessible for generations to come. I look forward to sharing my passion for our state’s archives and history with our amazing employees and the people we are privileged to serve every day.”

Hirotaka replaces Steve Excell, who retired in December 2021. Terry Badger was named State Archives’ Acting Director after Excell’s retirement; he will resume his previous role as Deputy Director.

Hirotaka earned her bachelor’s degree in law and justice from Central Washington University. She is a recent graduate of Leadership Thurston County, a Thurston County Chamber Foundation program that develops informed, skilled, and committed community leaders.

Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees, and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.

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