Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Seattle, Wash.
Provided by the Office of Mayor Jenny A. Durkan
Jenny A. Durkan is the 56th Mayor of Seattle and the first woman to lead the City in nearly a century.
She entered office on November 28, 2017, with the challenge of making Seattle affordable and inclusive for all. She is focused on the housing affordability crisis, helping those experiencing homelessness, providing free college tuition to Seattle’s high school graduates, and pushing reforms and restoring trust in the police department – while also delivering on basic city services. She also is committed to ensuring Seattle continues to lead the innovative economy and create new models for ensuring more security for workers.
Prior to becoming Mayor, Durkan was a civic leader and nationally-recognized attorney. From 2009 to 2014, she served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, becoming the first openly gay U.S. Attorney in our country’s history.
As U.S. Attorney, Durkan was the chief federal law enforcement officer in Western Washington and coordinated various federal investigative agencies. In addition, Durkan was a leader in recognizing the threat cyber criminals posed to privacy, the economy and security. She served for two years on the U.S. Attorney General's original Advisory Committee and chaired the advisory Subcommittee on Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Enforcement throughout her term. Durkan testified before Congress on cyber issues for the Department of Justice and is known for her national role in fighting cybercrime, and for increasing the federal capabilities to meet cyber-based national security and terrorism threats. Durkan faced the reality of a terrorist threat when authorities discovered a plot to attack a military recruiting office in Seattle.
During her tenure, Durkan championed more proactive enforcement efforts, leading “hot spot” initiatives in areas of persistent crime and by targeting gun crimes. Durkan also formed a civil rights unit in the U.S. Attorney’s office that increased enforcement of civil rights laws, including housing and job discrimination protections and the rights of returning veterans. Working with civil rights groups and community leaders, she launched a civil rights investigation of the Seattle Police Department’s use of force and treatment of minority communities. The investigation led to a landmark consent decree that requires broad reforms and ongoing monitoring by the federal court.
As a civic leader and advocate, she chaired a statewide task force on consumer privacy, which led to innovative protections for identity theft. She served a three-year term on the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors and for over twenty years served on the Merit Selection Committee for the United States District Court, helping select the candidates for appointment to seven vacancies in the federal judiciary. She was a founding board member of the Center for Women and Democracy and trained women running for office in Morocco. She was the first citizen observer on Seattle Police Department's Firearms Review Board and served on two blue-ribbon committees pushing for reforms at SPD. She helped establish drug and mental health courts in King County and create a specialized federal program to provide treatment alternatives to incarceration.
Durkan was counsel in a range of significant cases, resulting in a number of government reforms, and was chair of the cyber-security practice for a global law firm. Her recent legal work includes rushing to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on the day President Trump’s illegal Muslim immigration ban went into effect and working with families and other attorneys to successfully stop an effort to deport several people.
Her civic leadership, legal career and mentorship have been recognized and honored with numerous awards, including the Seattle Municipal League’s Warren G. Magnuson Memorial Award, Jaswant Singh Khalra Award for Social Justice from the Sikh community, Distinguished Alumni from the University of Washington School of Law, Passing the Torch Award from the Washington Women Lawyers, Leadership and Justice Award from Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association, and the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle’s Spirit Award.
Durkan, one of eight children, was raised in Seattle. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame, taught school and coached girls basketball in a Yupik fishing village in Alaska, and then earned her J.D. at the University of Washington School of Law. She and her partner, Dana, have two sons.