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About BIIA

Our mission

The mission of the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals is to serve the public by resolving appeals in a consistent, impartial, timely, and efficient manner.

Our vision

We are committed to providing:

  • A respected, unbiased forum for the resolution of disputes.
  • A desirable place to work, supportive of our mission and consistent with our values.

Our values
  • Dedication to public service.
  • Honesty, integrity, loyalty, and fairness.
  • Respect for all persons.
  • Diversity and teamwork in the workplace.
  • Our employees' well-being and safety.
  • Professionalism in performance and demeanor.
  • The contribution of each employee.
  • Personal and professional growth.
  • Dedication to excellence and continued improvement.

The Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) is a state agency that is independent from the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). The BIIA hears appeals from decisions made by L&I in several areas. The three principal types of appeals are:

  • Industrial insurance (workers' compensation)
  • Safety citations under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA)
  • Employer Premium (tax assessments and classifications)

Board members

The BIIA is administered by three full-time Board members appointed by the Governor. The role of a Board member can be divided into two major parts.

  • First, the Board members issue the final decision in every dispute appealed to the agency.
  • Second, the Board members act as managers of the agency itself. This second role is somewhat unusual in that the three Board members act as a singular executive to administer the agency as an organization.

Each Board member serves an overlapping six-year term and is appointed by the Governor.

Holly A. Kessler

Holly is the Chair of the Board. She was appointed by Governor Inslee in 2022. She joined the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals in 2015 and has served as a hearing judge and review/mediation judge. She previously worked in private practice defending licensed health care providers, representing clients in guardianship matters, and in Social Security disability hearings. Holly also worked as a GAL in Snohomish and King Counties. She received her Juris Doctor from Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon and her Bachelors of Arts from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

Isabel A. M. Cole

Isabel A. M. Cole is the Labor Member of the Board. She was appointed by Governor Inslee in 2019. Prior to coming to the BIIA, she represented workers' compensation claimants at Tacoma Injury Law Group. She received her law degree in 2012 from Seattle University School of Law, which she attended while working full time as an Air Traffic Controller for the Federal Aviation Administration. During her 22 years as an Air Traffic Controller she held numerous offices in the controller union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), including the facility representative at Seattle Tower for three terms, and the workers' compensation representative for the Northwest Mountain Region for over a decade. Her term expires on June 17, 2025.

Jack S. Eng

Jack S. Eng is the Business Member of the Board. He was appointed by Governor Gregoire in 2011 and reappointed by Governor Inslee in 2018. Prior to coming to the Board he was a Senior Legal Counsel for Weyerhaeuser Co. and served as an Assistant Attorney General, where he represented numerous state boards and agencies, including the Department of Labor and Industries. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington and his Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from Santa Clara University School of Law.

His term expired on June 17, 2023. Pursuant to RCW 51.52.010, Mr. Eng is continuing to serve as the Business Member until a replacement is appointed.

Chief Industrial Appeals Judge

Anita Booker-Hay

Anita is the Chief Industrial Appeal Judge at the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. Since joining the BIIA, Anita has served as a hearing judge, review judge, mediator, and Assistant Chief Judge. She was also the Chairperson of the Board's Judicial Staff Training Committee. Before joining the Board in 2014, she worked as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Lakewood and was the City of Lakewood's Police Legal Advisor. Anita graduated from The American University in Washington D.C. with a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in International Relations. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Puget Sound (now Seattle University School of Law) in 1993 and is a member of The Order of Barristers.

Chief Legal Officer

Brian Watkins

Brian is the Board's Chief Legal Officer (advisor to the Board). Since 2008, Brian has served as a trial judge, review judge, mediator, and assistant chief judge. Before coming to the Board, he worked as a senior administrative law judge with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings. He graduated from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (now Texas A&M University School of Law) and the University of Texas at Arlington. Since 2016, Brian has served as administrative law faculty at the National Judicial College. He served for many years as a volunteer hearing officer for the Housing Authority of Thurston County, is a former board member of the National Association of Administrative Law Judges, formerly co-chaired the Pro Se Committee of the Washington State Access to Justice Board, and served as president of the Washington Administrative Law Judges Association.