The Hill's 25 Women to Watch: Page 24 of 26

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OUTSIDERS

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS

FORMER DEMOCRATIC MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Gabrielle Giffords may have left Capitol Hill, but she’s nowhere near finished with politics and public service.

Having launched her own political action committee — “Gabby PAC” — the former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona is feeding her hunger to effect change as she forges a career operating behind the scenes while she continues her recovery.

Giffords, 42, was shot nearly two years ago while holding an event in her Tucson, Ariz., district. Many weren’t sure if the vivacious lawmaker would ever fully recuperate. But they clearly didn’t know Giffords well.

Her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, told The Hill that Giffords has redirected the verve she once brought to Congress to her ongoing rehabilitation.

“Throughout her career in Congress, Gabby made real change by focusing on finding bipartisan solutions on issues like solar energy, border security, and increasing opportunities for young people by investing in education,” Kelly said in an email. “Now, she is bringing that same positivity and energy to her recovery.”

In an increasingly partisan environment, many people are hoping Giffords, a former registered Republican, will be able to use her skills and position away from Washington to foster cooperation between the parties. Her influence was on display at this year’s Democratic National Convention, where her appearance to lead the Pledge of Allegiance drew an emotional standing ovation.

Giffords’s PAC has yet to make any splashes, but she has several other projects up her sleeve, and both she and Kelly are bound to make their mark, according to people close to the couple.

Kelly said they recently moved back to Tucson and are enjoying the proximity to friends and family. Giffords constantly impresses him and their two daughters on her path to recovery, he said.

“Focused on speech and physical therapy, Gabby continues to inspire me and Claudia and Claire every day,” Kelly said. “Gabby is making terrific strides, and her future is bright.”

— Jordy Yager

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