Born and raised in upstate New York, Kirsten Gillibrand inherited a dedication to public service from her grandmother and mother, who organized women and served their communities as activists. Gillibrand received her law degree from the UCLA School of Law and served as a law clerk on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Drawing inspiration from the women in her life, Gillibrand worked as an attorney in New York City for more than a decade and then decided to pursue a path of public service leadership.
After serving in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., she decided to move home to upstate New York to raise her family. She pulled off a stunning upset in her first Congressional race, unseating an entrenched incumbent by building the biggest grassroots campaign in the district’s history. She served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for two years before being sworn in as United States Senator from New York in January 2009. Gillibrand won her 2012 re-election campaign with a New York statewide record 72 percent of the vote. She has earned national recognition for creating bipartisan coalitions, especially on issues such as how sexual assaults are handled by our military and on our college campuses. She has also fought for congressional ethics reform and paid family leave.
Gillibrand has made it her life’s mission to support and empower more women to step up and run for office. Ten years ago, Gillibrand launched Off The Sidelines, a call to action to encourage women and girls to make their voices heard on the issues they care about. Off the Sidelines has since recruited, mentored, and supported dozens of women candidates for higher office and helped elect some of the brightest rising stars in office today.
Senator Gillibrand is a magna cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College. Sports have been a big part of Senator Gillibrand’s life dating back to high school when she played tennis and soccer. She entered Dartmouth as a tennis player but was then recruited away to play squash by the squash coach. Gillibrand ended up leading the Dartmouth squash team as its captain. She has spoken about how her tough matches prepared her for the competitiveness of politics later in life. She said her sports experience “helped take the fear out of something like running for office and putting yourself out there in a competitive contest and letting the people choose.” Senator Gillibrand was also a member of Dartmouth’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority that Blaine later joined as well.