Kirsten Engel was first elected in 2016 & is currently serving her second term in the Arizona House. As a law professor and a mom, Kirsten ran for office to fight for public, career/technical, and higher education funding as well as to bring her expertise in environmental & administrative law to the legislature. As a Representative, she has expanded her work to include Criminal Justice Reform as Ranking Democrat of the Judiciary Committee.
Kirsten’s experience in government and public service began long before her 2016 election to the Arizona State House. In addition to clerking for a federal appeals court judge and representing the U.S. EPA, Kirsten was Assistant Attorney General in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Division, first as the chief of the Environmental Protection Division and then as Senior Counsel in the agency’s Public Protection Bureau. Following the aftermath of 9/11, Kirsten served as the AG’s liaison to the Muslim community, working on policies and events to prevent anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Growing up in a family that values the environment, Kirsten decided early on she would be an environmental lawyer. After graduating magna cum laude from Brown University, she attended Northwestern University School of Law. She then worked as a staff attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, assisting the agency in the clean up of abandoned hazardous waste sites. Her commitment to the environment later took her to the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now “Earthjustice”), where she worked as a litigator in their Washington, D.C. office. Kirsten launched her law teaching career in 1992, a path that earned her positions at Tulane, Vanderbilt, Harvard and today, the University of Arizona.
Kirsten moved with her husband, Scott, and their 5-week old daughter to Tucson in 2005 so the couple could both take positions with the University of Arizona. At the U of A, Kirsten co-directs the Environmental Law Program, having established the Environmental Law Certificate Program in 2011. During her three-year stint as the law college’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (2012-2015), Kirsten oversaw or assisted in the creation of many of the Law College’s educational innovations, including the Masters in Legal Studies degree and the undergraduate Law major.
An involved parent, Kirsten served on the Site Council of her daughter’s elementary school — Lineweaver, in Tucson Unified School District — prior to her election. Additionally, she has been active in improving local parks, serving on the board of Friends of Himmel Park, as well as being a member of Planned Parenthood and the Arizona Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers