Giffords (born June 8, 1970) was raised in Tucson, Arizona. She completed her undergraduate university studies from Scripps College, where she was awarded a William Fulbright Scholarship to study for a year in Mexico. Later, Giffords obtained her Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University.
Prior to becoming involved with politics, Giffords was the President and Chief Executive Officer of El Campo Tire, Inc.
Giffords' began her career in politics by representing Tucson in the Arizona Legislature from 2000 to 2005, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate. She was named Woman of the Year by Tucson Business Edge for her commitment to business and public service and Woman on the Move by YWCA in 2005. She was named Legislator of the Year by the Arizona Planning Association and Most Valuable Player by the Sierra Club, for her work on environmental issues. Giffords also received the Top 10 Technology Legislator of the Year award from the Arizona Technology Council for three straight years - 2003, 2004, 2005, and was named Legislator of the Year by the Mental Health Association of Arizona in 2004.
In November 2006, Giffords was elected for the first time to the House of Representatives from the 8th District of Arizona, a diverse area that covers 9,000 square miles including a 114 mile border with Mexico. She was re-elected in November 2008 and again in November 2010. While in Congress, Giffords served on the House Armed Services, Appropriations, Commerce and Economic Development, and Finance Committees and the Subcommittees on Air and Land Forces and Military Readiness. In addition, she acted as Vice Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, Vice Chair of the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group and Chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee.
On January 8, 2011, Giffords was the target of an assassination attempt during a political rally at a grocery store in suburban Tucson, Arizona. The lone gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, entered the rally and proceeded to shoot twenty people, six of whom died at the scene including a young girl and a federal judge. Giffords was shot in the head and taken to the University Medical Center in Tucson for emergency surgery, after which she was place into a medically induced coma. Miraculously, she survived the gunshot wound and the subsequent surgeries.
In August 2011, Giffords returned to the floor of the Congress for the first time following the attack and submitted her vote on a House bill to a standing ovation.
On January 25, 2012, the day after President Obama's State of the Union address to which she attended, Giffords formally submitted her letter of resignation from Congress. In her statement she said that holding political office was still a calling but that she needed to focus on her recovery efforts. Her letter was publicly read by fellow Democratic representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Giffords is married to Captain Mark Kelly, a Navy Pilot and NASA astronaut, and was the only U.S. Representative in 2011 with an active duty military spouse.