Deputy prosecuting attorney Nancy Balin is committed to ensuring justice for her community. Originally from Massachusetts and intent on pursuing her Master’s in Social Work, she instead focused on a law degree and never looked back. She’s been with King County since 1999 and admits that while it can be challenging work, she enjoys it.
“There are always multiple things happening at once, it’s never boring here,” she said. “Aside from all our regular duties, we’ve also got to balance and prioritize what’s important. We’re conscious every day that we work for the people of King County.”
It is with this in mind that she explains to her clients the details and important notices within each case. She understands the legal process can be intimidating and difficult for someone unfamiliar with it.
“When I am representing my clients I try to keep them apprised of where the law and the County are going,” she said. “Even when I can’t convince judges of my client’s positions, I explain as much as I can about the restraints they are under –time, financial, everything.”
Building trust with her clients is an extension of her work in the office developing trust with other employees. Nancy remembers inviting her clients’ leadership and other staff for coffee when she began so that she could learn more about the work, and also get to know them as individuals.
“The first thing I did when I came to the civil side was try to foster relationships at all levels,” she said. “I wanted to find out what their priorities were and how I could help.”
“I wanted people to know and really believe that I am representing their best interests so that I can help them make changes and possibly say ‘hey, let’s try it this way’,” she adds.
It’s this genuine, direct attitude that lends itself so well to her passionate work done outside the office. Since 2011, Nancy and her family have hosted the annual Family Jewels 5k in March in honor of her stepson Jaimeson Jones. Jaimeson died in October 2010 at the age of 20 after two separate battles with testicular cancer. He was first diagnosed at age 14.
The 5k is intended to educate and raise awareness about testicular cancer and its signs and symptoms, as well as fundraise for a scholarship awarded to students whose siblings had cancer. The most common cancer of men ages 15 to 35, testicular cancer is curable 95% of the time when caught early. The 5k uses witty anecdotes (“Nut Notes”) and a direct call to action to inspire supporters, educators and others to participate.
“My life mission is to keep families from going through what we did. Lots of men don’t know about the symptoms of testicular cancer,” she said. “So at the beginning of the 5k I give a ‘30-second lecture’ reminding people to check, and telling them what to check for, and then the rest of the morning it’s all testicles, all the time.”
The Family Jewels 5k is held every year in honor of Nancy’s stepson Jaimeson Jones.
Held at Saint Edwards State Park in Kenmore on the gently sloped cross country trail, the 5k takes place on or near Jaimeson’s birthday of March 14, or Pi day. This is a reference to 3.14, roughly the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. In light of this, pie is also served at the 5k. It may seem odd, but Nancy’s explanation for including it is both touching and creative.
“See, half of the pie thing is that it’s his birthday, and those people are all about their ‘Pi Day’ birthdays,” she said. “The other half is that before his stem cell transplants he had to gain some weight, so I fed him his favorite pie and he put on a good 15 pounds in a month.”
“Because pie is a part of Jaimeson’s legacy with our family, and blackberry pie was his favorite, we serve pie at the 5k. Even if people don’t want to run or walk the race, after they register they can just come and eat pie.”
Titled the Family Jewels 5k, the event builds on Jaimeson’s legacy by engaging people in what could be a difficult dialogue by giving added meaning to the many humorous jokes for that specific male region.
“I well know that people are embarrassed by this subject, but they are learning something new and it’s so important to educate them about this,” said Nancy. “We’re raising awareness to a captive audience and saying ‘Share this information, make sure your loved ones know’.”
The Family Jewels 5k is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization included in the King County Employee Giving Program, and is also a member of the King County Employee Discounts Program.