Heuschel is a former principal and teacher and a former state deputy superintendent under then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson. She was named state Superintendent of the Year for 2011 and was a finalist for the same honor nationally.
Inslee said she has brought an "unrelenting search for quality" to Renton schools and would make state government "lift its aspirations" and implement Lean management. Heuschel said she used a quality-improvement system in Renton almost identical to Lean, the private-sector model that Inslee wants to bring to state agencies.
Heuschel co-chairs Inslee's transition committee, a group Republicans criticized as representing the status quo in state government. But Inslee said Heuschel is far from the norm for Olympia.
"Most chiefs of staff have come from what I might describe as a little more of the political world," said Inslee, saying that by contrast Heuschel represents "a proven manager."
But Heuschel is certainly familiar with politics. She ran unsuccessfully last year for hospital commissioner in King County, in an expensive race that she lost to Paul Joos.
She is a Democrat with many positions that line up with the party, and she endorsed Inslee. But Alex Hays of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington called her an education reformer and a centrist who has a track record of working with both Democrats and Republicans.