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Maria Fernanda Torres

September 24, 1974 - April 8, 2021

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Maria Fernanda Torres passed away surrounded by love at home on April 8th, 2021 at age 46, after a long battle with brain cancer.  Her quick wit, infectious smile, compassion for others and deep friendships will be missed by all, but never forgotten.

Fernanda was born on September 24th,1974 in Mexico City to Rosa Olivia Villa and Federico Torres.  At age 10, Fernanda moved to the Washington, D.C. area as her mother took a job opportunity with the Inter-American Development Bank.  Fernanda had to learn English upon moving to the US, and she did so in only a year’s time.  Her teacher from the English language program would go on to use her writing sample as a state-wide example.  Fernanda attended Sidwell Friends for high school, Williams College for a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1997, and New York University School of Law, for a Juris Doctor degree in 2003.

Fernanda met her future husband, Rusty Leech, during her studies in New York City.  Their shared sense of adventure would ultimately lead them to move to Seattle where they put down their roots together.  Fernanda was an incredible mother to their two children:  Kian, born in 2008, and Spencer, in 2011.  Both boys are bilingual because of Fernanda.  She constantly gave Kian and Spencer the love, guidance and support to grow and enjoy life.

In her professional life, Fernanda learned from the example that her mother set in serving those less fortunate and ultimately found her calling in public interest law.  She started out as a Public Defender in King County, then worked for a highly-respected law firm, Allen, Hansen & Maybrown and finished her career at the Washington Innocence Project.  As if work was not busy enough, she also volunteered countless hours providing free legal services to those in need at multiple organizations throughout Seattle. In her time at the Washington Innocence Project, her dedication and advocacy led to five wrongfully convicted clients gaining their freedom.  In time, five children would be born to these parents – a testament to the impact and reach of Fernanda’s life’s work.

Friends were a hallmark of Fernanda’s life.  She built close friendships from elementary/middle/high school and college days through to her life in Seattle.  Fernanda shared her love of music, running and a good laugh with so many.  She never missed a friend’s birthday or the chance to connect anytime a friend reached out.  Friends could always be themselves around Fernanda and know that she loved them for who they are.

Fernanda is survived by her mother Olivia; her husband Rusty; their two children Kian and Spencer; and a set of loving extended family and friends too long to list.

In lieu of flowers, we suggest that donations be made to organizations and causes where Fernanda worked and was passionate about throughout her life:

Washington Innocence Project –

National Alliance to End Homelessness –