As a North Seattle resident over the last 30 years and parent to two daughters, Debora has been witness to the many changes and challenges faced by our community.
Debora is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation. She is one of six children born to a Native American mother and a First-generation Mexican-American father. Debora grew up on the Puyallup Reservation in Tacoma, Washington. She is the first Native American citizen elected to the Seattle City Council.
The first member of her family to go to college, Debora completed her undergraduate degree at Western Washington University before attending the Seattle University School of Law, where during her last two years of law school she worked as a public defender for indigent clients and attended law school in the evenings.
Debora has been an attorney for 31 years. After law school Debora worked at Evergreen Legal Services (currently The Northwest Justice Project) where she was a staff attorney with the Native American Project which worked to ensure the rights of Native American clients. Her work soon caught the attention of the judges and city leaders she worked with and she began two years of public service as a King County Superior Court and City of Seattle Municipal pro-tem judge.
Washington State Governor Mike Lowry then appointed Debora to serve as a King County Superior Court Judge. Her work as an attorney and judge led to an executive appointment to the Governor's Office of Indian Affairs. As the Executive Director of Indian Affairs she served as lead policy and legal adviser to both Governor Lowry and Governor Gary Locke.
After leaving the public sector, Debora moved to the private sector to join a major Wall Street investment firm where she created 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 that created many jobs and opportunities for communities across Washington State.
Debora returned to the legal community with a vision and business plan to create a first rate Tribal Practice Group. The law firm Williams Kastner, one of the region’s most prominent law firms, welcomed Debora and embraced the concept of focusing economic empowerment and development beyond tribal lands. Debora worked with key business and tribal lawyers to build and ultimately chair the Tribal Practice Group. Debora's duties included complex federal litigation regarding constitutional claims, land rights, discrimination and social policy. In addition, she lent her expertise to corporate and investment communities that do business with tribes by providing an experienced, knowledgeable and stable platform to support successful economic empowerment and development.
In 2015, Debora was overwhelmingly elected to the Seattle City Council. She chairs the City’s Committee on Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities and Co-Chairs the Select Committee on Civic Arenas.