New LCS Northwest finance leader has eye for transparency, cool coffee mugs
Nicholas Lee carried a piece of LCS Northwest with him into the North Puget Sound backcountry, even before he was hired to be the agency’s new Chief Financial Officer. However you want to describe it – job interview souvenir, good luck charm, creative photo prop, or simple coffee mug – he felt so comfortable with it and the agency it represents, he brought it on a summer family hike.
“Gift giving is an art, and it was kind of the LCSNW leadership team to give me the mug,” he said. “I thought it would be great to take my new friend with me on a walk.”
A variety of descriptions could also be applied to Nicholas. He’s a seasoned public service leader who’s worked the last five years as Finance Director at the King County Library System, one of the busiest library systems in the U.S. He’s a husband, a father of an 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter, an avid outdoorsman, a fan of the TV series “Ted Lasso” and a photographer of random objects staged in natural settings, to name a few.
As the Issaquah resident prepares to start as agency CFO on Sept. 1, some other attributes stand out. He says he’s committed to financial transparency and being a good listener.
“Building trust is paramount for a finance team, and that means giving people a sense of inclusion,” he said. “Transparency is a function of inclusion. We don’t want to be the only ones who know the answer to a given question.”
It’s also clear that his personal values align with the LCSNW mission of health, justice and hope. He served more than four years on the board of the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank. And for over a month, his family has hosted an asylum-seeking Ukrainian family who fled the war with Russia. His wife Elena is originally from Kyiv.
“We went from a household of four to seven,” Nicholas said. “For me personally it gives a sense of grace, of what it’s like to give up your life and identity and to start over again.” It conjures thoughts of how his grandparents moved from North Dakota to the Renton Highlands of Washington state in 1952 – “except this must be light years more difficult because of the language and cultural barrier.”
“It’s definitely been worth it for us,” he said. “We didn’t know what to do when the war broke out – we made financial contributions to organizations – but hosting a family is a great way to connect with humanity at a different level. We are committed to their success.”
Prior to joining the King County Library System, Nicholas served two years as CFO for the City of Snoqualmie. Before that, he was Finance Manager for King County and Senior Budget Analyst for the City of Bellevue.
His higher education record is Pac-12 Conference, through and through – a bachelor’s degree in finance and international business from Washington State University and a master’s in agribusiness from Arizona State University.
He said he’s very happy to join a nonprofit organization that makes a difference for marginalized communities. LCSNW leaders are pleased, as well.
“I am excited to welcome Nicholas as our next CFO,” said David Duea, agency President and CEO. “He has the right experience and focus to help guide the agency to be fiscally sound while we invest in being an employer of choice.”