Derek Kilmer currently serves as United States Representative for the residents of Washington’s 6th Congressional District.
From the private sector, to the Washington state Capitol, and now the House of Representatives, Derek has remained focused on the best ways to keep the region’s economy moving forward, strengthen the middle class, defend our troops and veterans, give our children a quality education, meet our commitment to seniors, and protect the region’s rich natural heritage.
Derek has been identified as one of the most effective members of the U.S. House. An article in the Washington Post named him as one of the five Democrats in Congress most able to pass significant legislation to benefit their constituents. Derek currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is a member of the Subcommittees on Interior & Environment, Defense, and Energy & Water.
Derek works to ensure America remains committed to service members and their families. Derek has also encouraged the military to make key investments that support Naval Base Kitsap, that enhance the capacities of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, and that grow businesses and jobs. For his work in support of military families, he received the U.S Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor a civilian not employed by the Navy can receive from the Secretary of the Navy.
Derek has also been a leading voice on behalf of America’s veterans. He has championed improvements within the Veterans Administration and worked to create economic opportunities for veterans and their families. For his efforts, the national veterans group AMVETS awarded Derek their Silver Helmet Award, given to a member of Congress whose work to support and create opportunities for veterans stands out.
Derek is the co-founder of the Congressional Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, a group of representatives focused on the restoration of Puget Sound. He has been a leader in the effort to combat climate change and ocean acidification. Derek is part of the Climate Solutions Caucus and has introduced legislation to address changes in the ocean’s chemistry (known as ocean acidification) which threaten the region’s shellfish industry and fisheries. Derek has also been active in supporting our national parks and sponsored a bill to reduce the maintenance backlog in our park system. For that work, Derek received the National Park Heritage Award from the National Parks Conservation Association.
Derek has introduced legislation to help small businesses and to support working families. Derek has received the Heroes of Main Street award from the National Retail Foundation and the Spirit of Enterprise Award from the US Chamber of Commerce. Derek received the Friends of SPEEA Award for his work to increase the federal minimum wage, expand family and medical leave, enhance the rights of working people, and protect the federal workforce.
Born and raised on the Olympic Peninsula, the son of two school teachers, Derek saw firsthand how economic struggles impact working families and their communities. Motivated by the challenges that faced his hometown, Derek focused his studies on economic development, earning a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University’s School of Public & International Affairs and a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford in England.
Derek started his career as a business consultant for McKinsey & Company, assisting Washington state businesses, non-profits, and government agencies efforts to run more efficiently.
Following his time at McKinsey, Derek went to work for the Economic Development Board (EDB) for Tacoma-Pierce County. In the decade he worked for the EDB, he served as Business Retention Manager and then as Vice President, working closely with hundreds of local small business owners and helping them create thousands of jobs.
Having worked in business and economic development, Derek gained an appreciation for the ways in which government impacts the ability of private sector companies to succeed and grow. Derek was elected to serve in the Washington state House in 2004 and to the state Senate in 2006. As the Senate’s lead capital budget writer, he helped craft a bipartisan proposal to target long-term economic growth, investing $1 billion in infrastructure statewide and directly creating 18,000 jobs. He also led a successful bipartisan effort in the Washington state Senate to balance the budget and reduce state debt.
Because of his time in the private sector and at the state capitol, Derek recognizes that if we’re going to truly confront our nation’s challenges, we need to work across party lines to find enduring and successful solutions. That is why he serves as co-chair of the Bipartisan Working Group, consisting of Democrats and Republicans committed to putting aside partisan bickering and focusing, instead, on making progress for the country. For his efforts, Derek received the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Legislative Action Award which recognizes “members with the unique capacity to identify common interests and get things done.” He also serves as the Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a new committee focused on reforms to make Congress work better for the American people.
As our representative, Derek has also received the Outstanding New Member Award from the Voices for National Service and was named a Humane Champion by the Humane Society.
Derek and his wife Jennifer live in Gig Harbor with their daughters Sophie and Tess and their Australian Shepard Truman.