Councilmember Debora Juarez has built a career focused on legal advocacy and economic development for the most marginalized communities in our state. Over the last 25 years, she has witnessed many changes and challenges faced by our District 5 community as a North Seattle homeowner, renter, and parent to two daughters.
Debora got her start on the Puyallup Reservation in Tacoma. She’s an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation and one of six children born to a Native American mother and a first-generation Mexican-American father. After growing up on the reservation, she became the first member of her family to go to college. She completed her undergraduate degree at Western Washington University before attending the Seattle University School of Law. During her last two years of law school Debora began her career in public service, working as a public defender for indigent clients by day while attending law school in the evenings.
After five years as a public defender she began working at Evergreen Legal Services (currently The Northwest Justice Project) where she was a staff attorney with the Native American Project, an initiative aimed at ensuring the rights of Native American clients. Her work soon caught the attention of judges and city leaders, and she began two years of service as a pro-tem judge for the King County Superior Court and City of Seattle Municipal Court. Garnering statewide recognition, Washington State Governor Mike Lowry then appointed Debora to serve as a full-time King County Superior Court Judge.
Her work as an attorney and judge led her to Olympia, where she served two Governors, Mike Lowry and Gary Locke, as Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs.
Pivoting to the private sector, she joined a major Wall Street investment firm with the goal of creating one of the nation’s first in-house Tribal Finance Groups. Debora’s role and responsibilities as a financial adviser included managing multi-million dollar portfolios and financing capital projects which created many jobs and opportunities for underrepresented communities across Washington State.
Drawn back to the legal profession, Debora returned with a vision and business plan to create a first-rate Tribal Practice Group. One of the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent law firms, Williams Kastner, welcomed Debora and her vision of focusing economic empowerment and development beyond tribal lands. Debora’s duties included complex federal litigation regarding constitutional claims, land rights, discriminatory practices, and social policy.
She is profoundly honored to serve the people of District 5 as their first representative on the City Council.