Board Members

The board has three members, appointed by the Governor, and confirmed by the state Senate for staggered six-year terms. One of the three must be a lawyer.

Michelle Gonzalez, Acting Chair

Michelle Gonzalez was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee in 2020 to serve on the Pollution Control and Shorelines Hearings Boards. She was reappointed by Governor Inslee in 2022. Before joining the boards, Ms. Gonzalez directed the Women’s Commission, an agency in the Governor’s Office. She also served as assistant dean at the University of Washington School of Law and as a senior lecturer in the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, where she has taught courses on administrative law and mediation and negotiation. Ms. Gonzalez has worked in the private and public sectors as an attorney and clerked for a federal magistrate judge in the Western District of Washington.

Ms. Gonzalez earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She is a volunteer board member of Heritage University in the Yakima Valley, which serves students from the local area. She enjoys mentoring students, and she started an externship program for law students with the agency. She speaks conversational Spanish and enjoys opportunities to practice. ​​​​​​

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Carolina Sun-Widrow, Chair

Carolina Sun-Widrow was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee in 2019 to serve on the Pollution Control and Shorelines Hearings Boards. Before her appointment, she was an administrative appeals judge for four years for the two boards at the Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office. Before joining the office, Ms. Sun-Widrow served for thirteen years as a staff attorney for the Washington State Supreme Court and as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Judge Ronald E. Cox at the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division One. She also worked as a special assistant attorney general for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, representing the Department of Social and Health Services in appellate matters, and worked for a firm specializing in land-use law, for the State Attorney General’s Office’s Natural Resources Division, and for the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Sun-Widrow graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and environmental studies, and earned a law degree from the University of Washington School of Law, where she also trained as a mediator.

Ms. Sun-Widrow is a past board member of Community Youth Services and a founding member of the Washington Immigrant Network. She was born in Taiwan and grew up in Paraguay and St. John, Washington. She speaks conversational Spanish and Mandarin Chinese and enjoys rock climbing and bouldering.

Christopher Swanson

Christopher Swanson was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee in 2023 to serve on the Pollution Control and Shorelines Hearings Boards. Before his appointment, he served as an assistant chief industrial appeals judge with the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) and worked as a mediation and review judge and a hearings judge with the BIIA, a health law judge with the Washington state Department of Health, and an assistant attorney general serving in the Utilities and Transportation and Agriculture and Health divisions. In all, he has worked in administrative law for twenty-three years and served as an administrative adjudicator for fifteen years.

Mr. Swanson graduated magna cum laude from California State University, Chico, with a bachelor of arts in political science and received his law degree from Willamette University College of Law.

In his spare time, Mr. Swanson enjoys hiking and cycling especially in the Mount Rainier area as well as international travel.

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Administrative Appeals Judges

Heather Coughlan

Heather Coughlan (formerly Francks) joined the Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office in 2015. Before joining the office, she was a health law judge for nearly three years at the Department of Health. Before her state service, Ms. Coughlan practiced commercial litigation in Seattle at Stokes Lawrence, Preston Gates and Ellis (now K&L Gates), and Shidler McBroom Gates and Lucas.

Ms. Coughlan received a bachelor of arts degree in international relations from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles’ School of Law.

Andrew O'Connell

Andrew O’Connell is an administrative appeals judge with ELUHO. Before joining the office, Mr. O’Connell was an administrative law judge for the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, presiding over litigations involving rates, sales, and practices of investor-owned utilities in Washington such as Puget Sound Energy, Avista Corporation, and Waste Management of Washington. Before that, he was an assistant attorney general representing the staff of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission in similar litigations. Mr. O’Connell holds a master of law degree in climate change and energy law and policy from the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, and Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee, as well as a juris doctorate from Gonzaga University School of Law, and a bachelor of arts degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

Gabe Verdugo

Gabe Verdugo is an administrative appeals judge with ELUHO. Before joining the office, Mr. Verdugo was in private practice litigating consumer class actions and insurance cases. He also previously served as a judicial law clerk for Judge Rosanna M. Peterson at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington and for Justice Steven C. González at the Washington Supreme Court. Mr. Verdugo graduated from the University of Washington with bachelor degrees in plant biology and German language and literature. He earned his law degree from the University of Washington School of Law.

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Apply to Serve on the Board

Visit the Governor’s Web site to find information about how to apply to serve on this board.