Why I'm Running Biography Education and Career Civic Leadership
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Biography

Rod Dembowski is a life-long community volunteer, civic leader and highly respected attorney, recognized by Washington Law & Politics Magazine as a SuperLawyer® and named six times as a “Rising Star” in our community.  Born and raised in King County, he has spent a lifetime leading on issues from education funding to land use to transportation and transit.  He brings a unique combination of public and private sector experience to bear in addressing the challenges facing our region.  Rod is respected by our region’s elected officials, judges, colleagues and opponents as an ethical, creative problem-solver with a reputation for collegiality and professionalism.

Growing Up in Unincorporated King County

Rod and his brother Dave grew up in unincorporated King County, raised in a single-parent household by their father, Al Dembowski, a Korean War veteran and small business owner.  His grandfather was a 50-year journeyman boilermaker working in the Bremerton Shipyards during World War II, and his namesake Uncle Rod, a 40-year union machinist at the Shell oil refinery in Anacortes.  Their household income was well below poverty levels, and the family often struggled economically.

Growing up, Rod learned the value of hard work and how to work with people from nearly all walks of life.  He sold socks at local swap meets and worked summers unloading wheat trucks at a country grain elevator.  Later in high school, Rod started his own small business selling ice cream at local fairs and festivals in small towns like Stevenson, Ephrata, Elma, and Everson.

Education Ensured Opportunity

Rod attended Renton public schools, graduating with honors from Oliver M. Hazen High School in 1990.  Rod worked his way through Georgetown University and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, cum laude, with a minor concentration in Government.   He was awarded the Dean’s Citation for Service to the School.

To help pay for college, Rod worked part time in the United States Senate as a staff assistant, worked as a clerk for a local hardware store, won a scholarship to intern at the Japanese American Citizens League, and worked as a White House Intern during his senior year.  During summers, Rod returned home to help out in the family business.  

Rod attended the University of Washington School of Law, graduating in 2001.  At UW, he was honored with admission to the Order of the Barristers and was a member of the Moot Court Honor Board.  Rod won several school, regional, and national awards for his trial advocacy skills.  Rod’s classmates selected him as class commencement speaker.
(You can read more about Rod’s education here.)

A Career In the Public & Private Sectors

After graduation from Georgetown, Rod returned to Seattle and worked as a policy analyst for the King County Executive.  There, he worked on a broad range of county issues, including land use, zoning, budget development, boards and commissions recruitment and staffing, and served as the Executive’s representative to the King County Canvassing Board, overseeing ballot counting.

Rod put his business school training to work as a Marketing & Operations and Credit Analyst for PACCAR Financial in Bellevue, where he analyzed financial statements and operations data for the maker of Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks.

During law school, Rod clerked for the Washington State Attorney General’s office, University of Washington Division.  After graduation, he was hired by Foster Pepper, a 100-plus year old Seattle-based law firm known for its commitment to community service.  Today, Rod is an equity member of the firm.  His practice has focused on real estate, land use, municipal and business matters, as well as advising government and private clients on ethics laws, open public meetings act and public records act compliance. (You can read more about Rod’s work experience here.)

Uniquely Prepared to Lead King County

Serving King County and its citizens has been the major theme of Rod’s career.  His work as a policy analyst in the King County Executive’s Office gives him on-point insight into how King County government works and substantive knowledge on planning, budgeting, government reform, and economic development and human services issues.   Rod’s service on the King County Performance Measurement Oversight Committee helped launch early efforts at bringing more efficiency and accountability to county government operations.  His leadership on the King County Districting Committee demonstrated his ability to forge bipartisan consensus on the most difficult of issues, while listening to often-competing community objectives, and complying with the law.  His work for the King County Superior Court Judges as pro bono counsel on funding issues provides him detailed expertise in the criminal and civil justice system, and its budget impacts.  Rod’s advocacy for the AFIS and Children and Family Justice Center campaigns demonstrates his commitment to ensuring that King County provides the services our region and its citizens need.  Finally, his work for a dozen years in the King County Courthouse as an attorney, including work as a Special Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County and others on municipal matters, has given Rod the knowledge necessary to address the critical issues facing King County’s criminal and civil justice systems -- one of the most important and largest budget items in the County budget.  

Rod has been recognized for his pro bono work for victims of domestic violence, twice receiving commendations from the Washington State Bar.  Rod has served on the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee, the CityClub Board of Directors, the University of Washington Law School Alumni Board of Directors, as President of the Georgetown Club of Western Washington, on the Finance Advisory Board for the Asian Pacific Islander Women & Family Safety Center, and is a regular supporter of charitable organizations in our region.
(You can read more about Rod’s civic leadership here.)

Today, Rod lives with his wife, Lynna Song (Roosevelt High School, UW graduate, Masters Public Administration University of Pennsylvania), and their two boys, Evan (11) and Camden (8), who both attend public school in the District.  Lynna's parents are Shoreline residents.