Raina Spence is the new director of industry outreach for the Washington State Potato Commission.

Spence will provide technical advice and aid to the industry on food safety, sustainability programs, and pest and plant diagnostics. She’ll oversee commission-funded research and work with research institutions to develop educational material for the state’s industry, according to a news release.

Spence comes to the Moses Lake, Wash.-based commission from the U.S. Agency for International Development, where she was a foreign service officer. She provided management, technical support and agricultural program implementation for the federal government in other countries.

Her prior experience included work as a research scientist in plant pathology for the University of Wyoming.

“This is a new position that will be working directly with growers on helping them deal with the many new challenges our industry is facing,” Chris Voigt, commission executive director, said in the release. “Raina has a great background that includes potatoes, plant diagnostics, and direct outreach to growers.”

Spence has published dozens of papers in the field of plant sciences.

“Joining the (commission) has been a much celebrated homecoming after more than a decade away from Washington state,” she said in the release. “I look forward to making substantive contributions to the Washington State potato industry for years to come.”