- NAME: Kirsten Gillibrand
- OCCUPATION: Women's Rights Activist, U.S. Representative
- BIRTH DATE: December 09, 1966 (Age: 46)
- EDUCATION: Dartmouth University, University of California, Los Angeles
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Albany, New York
- Full Name: Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik Gillibrand
- AKA: Kirsten Gillibrand
- Maiden Name: Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik
- AKA: Kirsten Rutnik
- AKA: Kirsten Rutnik Gillibrand
- ZODIAC SIGN: Sagittarius
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Kirsten Gillibrand is a U.S. lawyer and politician from New York who's served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
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Born on December 9, 1966, in Albany, New York, Kirsten Gillibrand grew up in a political family, influenced by the independent spirit of her mother and grandmother. In 2006, Gillibrand won a House of Representatives seat as a Democrat in a traditionally Republican region. She was appointed to the Senate in 2009 after Hillary Clinton resigned. Gillibrand won the seat in 2010 and a 2012 re-election.
"My mother is an amazing woman. She is extremely strong, extremely independent, and she doesn't mind being different."
"One of my mother’s friends’ partners died of AIDS early on, and that affected me. This man was so interesting, so engaging, was always superkind to me. One of the most handsome men I’d ever met. And it was just such a loss for a young girl to see someone die so young."
"More women [in Congress] means more diverse views that represent a wider swath of the electorate. Women bring different experiences and perspectives to bear on decision making, so I truly believe that as more women are elected, the better the outcomes will be for everyone."
Kirsten Gillibrand was born Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik on December 9, 1966, in Albany, New York, and grew up in a political household with women who were independent and free thinkers. Her maternal grandmother, Dorothea "Polly" Noonan had, a major influence on Albany politics, advising Mayor Erastus Corning II and organizing state legislature secretaries to political action. Kirsten's mother, Polly Noonan Rutnik, pursued a career in law and would also become a black belt in karate. Her father, Douglas Rutnik, worked as a lawyer and lobbyist.
Gillibrand, who grew up using the nickname "Tina," attended the all-girl prep school Emma Willard before going to Dartmouth University, where she faced a still sexist atmosphere a decade after the ivy-league institution had gone coed. She majored in Asian studies and went abroad to China, where she interviewed the Dalai Lama. Gillibrand graduated magna cum laude and went on to earn a degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. She worked for a legal firm before entering the world of politics, inspired by the words of Hillary Clinton. During her time as a corporate attorney, she also served as special counsel to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Kirsten Rutnik took on the surname Gillibrand after marrying British venture capitalist Jonathan Gillibrand in 2001. They have two children.
In 2006, Gillibrand campaigned for a seat on the House of Representatives, running on a Democratic ticket against Republican incumbent John E. Sweeney for an area of upstate New York that tended to vote Republican. She won the election and cemented her standing with community-based campaigningm, which resulted in a 2008 re-election landslide.
Gillibrand would resign from her House seat in January 2009. She was appointed by then New York Governor David Peterson to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Clinton, who accepted the position of secretary of state as part of President Barack Obama’s newly formed cabinet. Gillibrand won re-election in a special 2010 election, becoming the youngest elected member of the Senate at age 43.
Gillibrand's record has caused her to be described as both progressive and centrist in her political leanings. She has been a major supporter of gay rights, advocating same-sex marriage and the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, thereby allowing gay citizens to serve openly in the military. She has also worked for women's rights and improved healthcare benefits for 9/11 workers and served on the Senate Agricultural Committee, where she’s fought against food stamp reductions.
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When the 19th Amendment was ratified, women were finally given the right to vote, and over the years many courageous women have stepped onto the national political stage as well. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress and almost a century later Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina woman to serve on the Supreme Court. And within the last two decades, the esteemable Hillary Clinton has served as First Lady, a New York senator and Secretary of State. These women, and many more, are setting the stage for the future of female leaders in Washington.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women."
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Women and men have continued the call for full-fledged women’s rights in a number of venues, including voting access, fair treatment in the workplace and reproductive and sexual freedom. Find out more about this eclectic and electric group of global activists who include Shirin Ebadi, Coretta Scott King, Asra Nomani and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
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