Impressively, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has earned national recognition for creating bipartisan coalitions in a time when political divisiveness is the norm. An attorney by training, Gillibrand worked in New York City-based private practices for more than a decade and then decided to pursue a path of public service leadership. In 2006 she entered electoral politics when 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. Later, In 2009, Gillibrand was appointed a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate after Hillary Clinton had been named secretary of state. Gillibrand won her 2012 re-election campaign with a New York statewide record 72 percent of the vote. Although Gillibrand made a brief bid for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2020, she continues to fight in the Senate for congressional ethics reform and paid family leave. In 2014 she published a political memoir, Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World (written with Elizabeth Weil).
Gillibrand's fierce sense of independence can be traced back to her days as a student at Dartmouth College. She arrived in 1984 when women only accounted for about 40 percent of the student population. She entered Dartmouth as a tennis player but was then recruited away to play squash by the squash coach. More than just a distraction from academics, Gillibrand has said that her sports experiences, “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."
Gillibrand also spent years learning Mandarin, becoming one of the earliest Dartmouth students to travel to China after it opened up to American exchange students. During her senior year, she completed a special project in Asia, focusing on Tibetan refugees and interviewing the Dalai Lama. Also at Dartmouth, she was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and interned at Senator Al D'Amato's Albany office. In 1988 she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian studies.
Gillibrand's busy schedule as one of the country's top politicians has not caused her to forget her Dartmouth roots. In 2019, while campaigning for the 2020 presidential race, she returned to her alma mater for a well-received town hall-style event that became a celebration of the women of Dartmouth. Previously, Gillibrand was also the subject of a 2018 Alumni Magazine cover story at Dartmouth where she discussed her days as a student, struggles as a politician, and hope that both of her children, Henry and Theo, will one day carry on the family's connection to Dartmouth's excellence.