Maggi Qerimi | Photo credit: Will Austin
It’s hard to imagine anyone with more determination than King County prosecuting attorney Maggi Qerimi. The former refugee now helps prosecute violent and economic crimes, using skills she honed while assisting in the prosecution of war criminals at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which was held at The Hague, Netherlands.
But she wasn’t always so driven, she says. After high school, Qerimi didn’t think of pursuing college until a coworker suggested she wasn’t living up to her potential and could aim higher. “With clear compassion and the language skills she did have, she told me that she saw me as someone who was drifting along and knew I could do better.”
Qerimi couldn’t shake the comment. She found she agreed with her colleague — she could do better. Soon, she decided to pursue higher education and work toward addressing the injustice she saw around her. After graduating from law school in 2014, she was hired by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, where she remains a strong advocate for justice here and abroad.
Along with raising a 2-year-old daughter with her husband, a Jewish refugee, Qerimi serves as a board member for the Anti-Defamation League and volunteers for organizations such as the International Rescue Committee. Her public service motivation stems from a deep commitment to her community and a desire to advocate for victims of crimes, two causes that Qerimi sees as her responsibility. Whether mustering the courage to pursue your passion or fighting on behalf of the vulnerable, she says, “Nothing is as difficult as it initially seems.”
Who is your personal hero?
What do you want people to understand about your work?
I chose to work in public service because I firmly believe that we each have a duty to the communities we live in and depend on. My public service work means that I try, every day, to uphold that responsibility.
What is one small action our readers can take in their own lives to make positive change happen?
To pick one entity/cause a year that matters most to you, outside of family and work/school, and see what is one thing that you can give of yourself to make that one thing better, no matter how small the contribution.
What one thing did an adult or mentor do for you as a youth that helped you succeed?
The middle-aged woman I worked with after high school who was grappling with improving her English language skills who told me I could do better. Her comment always stuck with me, and it was a part of my motivation to pursue higher education and obtain my law degree.
Best advice for kids with big ambition?
New challenges may feel insurmountable, and that’s understandable, because they are new! The key is to not shy away; they will remain insurmountable until you try.