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Seattle City (spot)Light: Denise Krownbell, Fish Biologist/Strategic Advisor

The Basics  

  • Years of service: 21  
  • Team: Environment, Land & Licensing 
  • Tell us about your role: I advise the Science Policy unit. Our team focuses on the utility’s environmental needs, including various aspects of salmon recovery, climate change and climate adaptation, and even a few things related to the first Skagit license. My job includes policy work for salmon recovery in both the Snohomish (Tolt) and Skagit watersheds and salmon habitat acquisition, restoration, and ongoing management of those purchased lands. I was hired the same day as Liz Ablow, the other female fish biologist at City Light, and we are great friends. I have a great job! 


  • Hometown: Wilmington, Del., though I spent more years in Fallstown, Md. People know I’m not from Seattle because I talk “too fast” and am very direct.  
  • Alma Mater: University of Delaware – go Blue Hens! I also went to grad school at Texas A&M.  
  • Area of study: My undergrad was in biology, and my master of science is in fisheries. 
  • Tell us about your family: I met my husband, Erik, at an ultimate frisbee tournament. We were friends for six months, watching Philadelphia Eagles (GO EAGLES!) games and playing frisbee before we started dating. We celebrated our 23rd anniversary in September. Our oldest son, Ben, is a sophomore at Western Washington University and a City Light Employee Association (CLEA) scholarship recipient (thanks, CLEA!). Riley is a senior at Franklin High School. Both play ultimate frisbee and lacrosse. I’m sad to say that lacrosse has surpassed ultimate as their favorite sport. I’ll get over it eventually. They did play on my ultimate co-ed team for a couple of years, and that was a BLAST!  

Just for Fun  

  • What TV show are you currently bingeing? “The Handmaid’s Tale” – wow! Glad I started watching this after the 2020 election. I’m also watching “The Crown” and “Schitt’s Creek” and have a bunch in the queue but pacing myself. 
  • What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend? Gardening, playing ultimate or soccer and playing music with Erik. I also have a dobro. We play folk and bluegrass with friends, including fellow City Lighters Tom Meyer and Brian Ward and their spouses.  
  • What do you like most about your role? I’ve been at City Light long enough that people come to me for advice and opinions on different things – from getting something done to union advice. I appreciate being asked and hope that I’ve helped people. I do like working for the public. I’ve been in government jobs my entire post-college career. 
  • When you were younger, what was your dream job? I wanted to be a veterinarian until I realized how hard it would be to get into vet school. We used to have a boat. I would spend HOURS fishing for crabs and minnows right off the dock or out fishing with my family. Switching to a fish biologist was a natural second option. 
  • If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be and why? Tough call. Supreme Court justice because it would be interesting to hear the discussions and the thoughts behind the decisions.