About Us

PDA demonstrates that change can best be achieved through responsive care and inter-agency coordination.
About Us
Care and Coordination

What we do

Programming

We design, implement and refine effective community-based responses to public safety and order issues.

Technical Support

We provide training and technical support locally, nationally and internationally on the models we developed.

Organizing

We provide a home base and support for people directly affected by the systems we seek to change, to organize for transformation.

Advocacy

We lift up community safety models and secure policy and resources to scale them. We champion justice through legal and policy advocacy.

Our work
About Us

Meet the people behind our work.

Our staff
Sean Healy
Sr. Participant Support Specialist, CoLEAD
Sean Healy
Ly Huynh
On-Call Participant Support Specialist, CoLEAD
Ly Huynh
Responding and Evolving

Our Approach

PDA’s core work is designing and implementing new approaches to real problems that, in the past, were met with enforcement, prosecution and punishment, but respond better to the coordination and care strategies we offer.

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Our History

Slideshow

The Defender Association is founded.

1969

The Defender Association (TDA) was founded in 1969 to provide criminal defense representation to civil rights activists…

The Defender Association is founded.

The Defender Association is founded.

1969

The Defender Association (TDA) was founded in 1969 to provide criminal defense representation to civil rights activists in Seattle’s historically Black Central District.

Helping set the standard for excellence

1970

As the nation moved into the era of mass incarceration in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, indigent…

The Defender Association is founded.

Helping set the standard for excellence

1970

As the nation moved into the era of mass incarceration in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, indigent defense was poorly funded, often denied in practice, and dealt with crushing caseloads. TDA fought effectively to bring a different level of service to clients. Alumni include Jeff Robinson, Twyla Carter, Jeff Ellis, James Bible, Anita Khandelwal, and countless others who dedicated their careers to excellent representation of people without the resources to choose their own counsel.

Caseload standards achieved

1983

TDA pioneered the concept of getting maximum caseload standards built into the funding model for public defense,…

The Defender Association is founded.

Caseload standards achieved

1983

TDA pioneered the concept of getting maximum caseload standards built into the funding model for public defense, making it possible for defenders to do high quality work for a reasonable number of clients.

Salary parity with prosecutors achieved

1990

One of the best tools to drive adequate resources to public defenders is to insist on salary…

The Defender Association is founded.

Salary parity with prosecutors achieved

1990

One of the best tools to drive adequate resources to public defenders is to insist on salary parity with prosecutors. Fighting in King County, TDA was one of the first defender programs in the country to win funding for salary parity.

The Racial Disparity Project is launched.

1998

At the height of mass incarceration in the 1990s, we launched, with small foundation grants, the Racial…

The Racial Disparity Project is launched.
TDA successfully challenges City of Seattle.

The Racial Disparity Project is launched.

1998

At the height of mass incarceration in the 1990s, we launched, with small foundation grants, the Racial Disparity Project, dedicated to reducing racial inequity in, and driven by, the criminal system. The RDP first tackled drivers license suspension and car impoundment. Starting in 2000, the RDP focused primarily on drug enforcement and police misconduct.

TDA pushed to the margins

2005

In the aftermath of the remote detention & selective enforcement litigation, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickles reorganized public…

TDA pushed to the margins

TDA pushed to the margins

2005

In the aftermath of the remote detention & selective enforcement litigation, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickles reorganized public defense contracts and nearly eliminated TDA from the practice for several years.

TDA successfully challenges City of Seattle.

2005

In 2005, to save money, the City of Seattle violated prior promises and began to send pre-trial…

TDA successfully challenges City of Seattle.

TDA successfully challenges City of Seattle.

2005

In 2005, to save money, the City of Seattle violated prior promises and began to send pre-trial detainees to the Yakima Jail in Eastern Washington. TDA brought a writ of prohibition, and a Superior Court judge found remote pre-trial detention far from lawyers & family would be unconstitutional. TDA was successful in challenging this remote detention of municipal court pre-trial defendants.

Founding of LEAD

2011

With initial funding from the Ford and Open Society Foundations, the RDP launched the Law Enforcement Assisted…

Founding of LEAD
Founding of LEAD

Founding of LEAD

2011

With initial funding from the Ford and Open Society Foundations, the RDP launched the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, the nation’s first pre-booking diversion program for drug offenses, in 2011. It was designed and first implemented here in Seattle-King County.

Indigent Defense Standards

2012

After years of advocacy spearheaded by former TDA Director Bob Boruchowitz, the Washington Supreme Court adopted comprehensive…

Indigent Defense Standards

Indigent Defense Standards

2012

After years of advocacy spearheaded by former TDA Director Bob Boruchowitz, the Washington Supreme Court adopted comprehensive standards for indigent defense statewide, and required courts to enforce them.

Community Police Commission

2013

PDA’s Director co-chaired the Seattle Community Police Commission, formed to provide community voice during implementation of a…

Community Police Commission

Community Police Commission

2013

PDA’s Director co-chaired the Seattle Community Police Commission, formed to provide community voice during implementation of a Justice Department Consent Decree, from 2013-2017, and a PDA lawyer served on the Commission through 2022.

Becoming PDA

2013

In 2013, when King County brought public defense in-house, the Public Defenders Association (PDA) remained independent to…

Becoming PDA
Becoming PDA

Becoming PDA

2013

In 2013, when King County brought public defense in-house, the Public Defenders Association (PDA) remained independent to manage alternative public safety programs with roots in community.

VOCAL-WA Launches

2015

VOCAL-NY authorized PDA to launch its first affiliate nationally, VOCAL-WA (Voices of Community Activists and Leaders), an…

VOCAL-WA Launches

VOCAL-WA Launches

2015

VOCAL-NY authorized PDA to launch its first affiliate nationally, VOCAL-WA (Voices of Community Activists and Leaders), an organizing effort led by and for those most affected by systemic injustice. VOCAL-WA’s first campaign was the successful effort to get supervised consumption practices to be the official policy of Seattle and King County.

Remarkable LEAD Evaluation

2015

An independent outcomes evaluation of LEAD’s first two years, funded by the Laura & John Arnold Foundation…

Remarkable LEAD Evaluation

Remarkable LEAD Evaluation

2015

An independent outcomes evaluation of LEAD’s first two years, funded by the Laura & John Arnold Foundation and conducted by the HaRRT Center at the University of Washington, found recidivism reductions, cost savings, jail & prison reductions and reduced felony filings, compared to a control group.

White House Recognition

2015

The Obama Administration, looking for frameworks to transform policing and reduce mass incarceration, hosted a White House…

White House Recognition

White House Recognition

2015

The Obama Administration, looking for frameworks to transform policing and reduce mass incarceration, hosted a White House symposium on LEAD, featuring the first official discussion ever of “harm reduction” at a White House event.

Launch of LEAD Support Bureau

2016

The LEAD Support Bureau was launched in 2016, to provide technical assistance to the scores of communities…

Launch of LEAD Support Bureau

Launch of LEAD Support Bureau

2016

The LEAD Support Bureau was launched in 2016, to provide technical assistance to the scores of communities each year that wanted to visit Seattle or receive help in replicating the model.

Incubating Collective Justice & the Civil Survival Project

2018

Civil Survival is an advocacy home for individuals who are formerly incarcerated and seek to affect public…

Incubating Collective Justice & the Civil Survival Project

Incubating Collective Justice & the Civil Survival Project

2018

Civil Survival is an advocacy home for individuals who are formerly incarcerated and seek to affect public policy and improve conditions for returning community members. Collective Justice advances healing justice practices in community and with individuals currently incarcerated. Both projects were launched by new law graduates who held fellowships at PDA, and PDA supported both to spin off as independent 501c3 organizations after their first several years.

Responding to COVID

2020

In 2020, recognizing that the criminal legal system was largely shuttered and “the streets were the new…

Responding to COVID
Responding to COVID

Responding to COVID

2020

In 2020, recognizing that the criminal legal system was largely shuttered and “the streets were the new jail” during the COVID emergency, PDA and partners secured COVID relief funds to lodge individuals living unsheltered and without lawful income in unused hotels, & mobilized a new intensive case management team to provide care & connection. JustCARE resolved 14 encampments in downtown Seattle neighborhoods, and CoLEAD lodged over 400 individuals in 18 months.

Co-Executive Director structure adopted

2021

In fall 2021, PDA adopted a Co-Executive Director structure, recognizing the value of multiple voices and perspectives…

Lisa Daugaard and Tara Moss
Co-Executive Director structure adopted

Co-Executive Director structure adopted

2021

In fall 2021, PDA adopted a Co-Executive Director structure, recognizing the value of multiple voices and perspectives at the top leadership level.

Third Avenue Project

2022

PDA helped design, and provides project management for, a community-based public safety project in the heart of…

Third Avenue Training Event

Third Avenue Project

2022

PDA helped design, and provides project management for, a community-based public safety project in the heart of Seattle’s downtown business district, with key partners We Deliver Care, REACH, and Downtown Emergency Service Center.

Grounded in Experience

Our Mission and approach

PDA plants seeds for a world rooted in community and care instead of punishment and neglect. We work with people actively seeking to move past experiences of harm and injury, along with neighborhood and public partners. Through compassion, coordination and a harm reduction framework, we create and implement better responses to public health and safety.

PDA’s core work is designing and implementing new approaches to real problems that, in the past, were met with enforcement, prosecution and punishment, but respond better to the coordination and care strategies we offer. We build public understanding of and support for these new strategies by ensuring they are responsive to the real problems encountered in our diverse communities.

We build public understanding of and support for these new strategies by ensuring they are responsive to the real problems encountered in our diverse communities.

When we’ve designed and implemented something that works, we offer technical support to other jurisdictions locally, in Washington State, nationally and internationally, tapping the lessons we’ve learned and insights we’ve gained on the ground. We don’t teach anything we haven’t used ourselves.

Our team also engages in organizing, leadership development and policy advocacy, all drawing on new approaches we’ve helped develop that work better to meet human needs and address serious challenges our communities face.

Our team blends professional and technical skill with lived experience of the systems we’re working to change. We constantly examine whether our methods need to evolve to ensure we’re on target to advance public safety, racial justice, and community healing.

Building Powerful Partnerships

Together we work to show that we can respond to community needs in new ways, and deliver results for a wide range of partners.
Heather Aman
Senior Assistant Seattle City Attorney
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Ted Boe
Burien Chief of Police
About Us
Dominique Davis
CEO, Community Passageways & Co-Owner, We Deliver Care
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