Kirsten grew up in upstate New York in a family of women with a tradition of public service. She learned about campaigning and organizing from her political powerhouse grandmother. And her mother’s legal work taught her the importance of advocating for communities who are too often overlooked. Kirsten followed their lead, first working as a lawyer, then finding her own path to public service.
That path, which started at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, led her back to upstate New York, where she decided to raise her family and make a long-shot bid to represent her home district in Congress. In 2006, Kirsten, and her 2-year-old son Theo, hit the campaign trail, taking on a long-term Republican incumbent in a district with a 2-1 Republican majority. She waged that uphill battle with commonsense ideas to reform congressional ethics, end the War in Iraq and introduce Medicare for All – and won. She brought unprecedented transparency to her House office and championed the needs of upstate New Yorkers.
When she became a senator in 2009, she drew on her mother’s commitment to raising the voices of those who most need advocates and gained a reputation for taking on the toughest fights in Washington. She successfully pushed for the repeal of the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, co-authored and passed the STOCK Act to ban insider trading by members of Congress, and passed the historic 9/11 health bill, giving long overdue support to first responders. And She continues to push for a national paid family leave plan and military justice reform.
Kirsten is also carrying on her grandmother’s fight to bring women into the political process, making it her life’s mission to help more women run for office. In 2010, she launched Off the Sidelines, issuing a call to women and girls to get involved, raise their voices, and put their names on the ballot. In the past 10 years, Off the Sidelines has raised more than $10 million to help hundreds of women candidates run for office and it has helped elect some of the Democratic Party’s brightest rising stars.
Kirsten is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the UCLA School of Law. She splits her time between upstate New York and Washington, D.C., and lives with her husband, Jonathan; their two sons, Theo and Henry; and their labradoodle, Maple.