U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords has become known across the country for her resilience in the face of violence, and for her consensus-building leadership in Congress.
On November 2, 2010, Gabrielle Giffords was re-elected by the people of Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District – a diverse area that covers 9,000 square miles including a 114-mile border with Mexico. For more than ten years, Giffords had dedicated herself to public service as an elected official. A third generation Tucsonan, she represented her hometown in the Arizona Legislature from 2000-2005, where she was the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate. Her success was built upon her reliance on the old-fashioned values of kindness, candor and hard, grueling work.
Upon entering Congress in 2007, Giffords quickly became a leading champion of border security, energy independence, and the needs of military families and veterans. Consistently ranked as one of the most centrist legislators in Congress, she has been a strong supporter of fiscal responsibility, bipartisanship, and government accountability. She has also been an outspoken supporter of universal health care, and economic fairness for the middle class and the poor.
Involving Southern Arizonans in shaping policies and strategically solving community problems is the cornerstone of her work. Giffords’ inclusive and collaborative approach allows her to bring all viewpoints to the table and the best ideas to fruition.
Before entering public office, Giffords took over her family’s tire and automotive business while in her twenties. As the President and Chief Executive Officer of El Campo Tire, Inc., she developed a keen understanding of the challenges faced by small businesses. In Washington, Giffords was a voice for those small businesses and an advocate of honest budgeting.
Having represented thousands of military families and veterans in Southern Arizona, Giffords served on the House Armed Services Committee and the Subcommittees on Air and Land Forces and Military Readiness. She worked closely with Army and Air Force officials at Southern Arizona’s critical installations: Fort Huachuca, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and the 162nd Air National Guard. She took on the concerns of Southern Arizona’s soldiers and airmen as her own; representing their interests and the needs of their families in Washington was her passion and privilege.
On the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Congresswoman Giffords promoted an agenda of energy independence and solar initiatives, efforts aimed at creating good-paying jobs at home and lowering energy costs. She served as chairwoman of the Science and Technology Space Subcommittee, focusing on NASA reauthorization strategy, and also as Vice Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.
Combining her work on the Armed Services and Science Committees, Giffords took the lead in Congress to promote increased use of renewable energy at military installations throughout the country.
In her district, Giffords launched a Community Solar Energy Initiative to mobilize support and action for the increased use of solar energy. It included an advisory council of university researchers, business leaders, elected officials, and interested citizens to make recommendations on how solar energy could be advanced in Arizona. This effort also led to the introduction and passage of legislation to encourage research and development and the training of a solar energy installation workforce. Giffords also fought for an eight-year extension of the Investment Tax Credit for commercial and residential solar projects. Her office hosted more than 50 public seminars on solar energy to educate the public and connect them with local businesses.
Congresswoman Giffords was selected to serve as Ranking Member of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee in January 2011, in order to lead the conversation around future space exploration, aviation research, and inspiring the next generation of math and science pioneers.
Giffords holds a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.A. from Scripps College where she was awarded a William Fulbright Scholarship to study for a year in Chihuahua, Mexico.
She is married to Navy Captain Mark Kelly, a retired Navy Pilot and NASA astronaut. Before being assigned to NASA, Kelly flew 39 carrier-based combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. He was also commander of the final mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Giffords was for several years the only U.S. Representative with an active duty military spouse. She was recognized as the Honorary Military Spouse of the Year for 2011 by Military Spouse magazine.
The office of Congresswoman Giffords handled almost 3,000 constituent requests per year – almost four times the average handled by the nation’s 435 members of the House of Representatives. She ran in six elections is Southern Arizona and won each of them.
Congresswoman Giffords was seriously wounded at a Congress on Your Corner event in Northwest Tucson on January 8, 2011. She is currently undergoing rehabilitation through TIRR Hermann Memorial hospital in Houston, Texas. Stepping down from Congress in January, 2012, Giffords said, “I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.”