Foreword by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Fourteen years before Kirsten Gillibrand succeeded Hillary Rodham Clinton as senator from New York, she heard her future mentor say these life-changing words: “Decisions are being made every day in Washington, and if you are not part of those decisions, you might not like what they decide, and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.” A young corporate lawyer at the time, Gillibrand felt as if she’d been struck by lightning. She instantly knew that her voice—all women’s voices—were essential to shaping the future of this country, and that she had a greater purpose in life: to speak up and effect change. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the senator, wife, and mother of two recounts her personal journey in public service and galvanizes women to reach beyond their busy lives and make a meaningful difference in the world around them.

OFF THE SIDELINES is a playbook for women who want to step up, whether in Congress or the boardroom or the local PTA. If women were fully represented in politics, Gillibrand says, national priorities would shift to issues that directly impact them: affordable daycare, paid family medical leave, and equal pay. Pulling back the curtain on Beltway politics, she speaks candidly about her legislative successes (securing federally funded medical care for 9/11 first responders, repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) and her crushing disappointments (failing by five votes to pass a bill protecting survivors of sexual assault in the military).

Gillibrand also shares stories of growing up the daughter and granddaughter of two trailblazing feminists in a politically active family in Albany, New York, and retraces her nonlinear path to public office. She lays bare the highs and lows of being a young (pregnant!) woman in Congress, the joys and sacrifices every working mother shares, and the support system she turns to in her darkest moments: her husband, their two little boys, and lots of girlfriends.

In OFF THE SIDELINES, Gillibrand is the tough-love older sister and cheerleader every woman needs. She explains why “ambition” is not a dirty word, failure is a gift, listening is the most effective tool, and the debate over women “having it all” is absurd at best and demeaning at worst. In her sharp, honest, and refreshingly relatable voice, she dares us all to tap into our inner strength, find personal fulfillment, and speak up for what we believe in.


New York, NY—9/9/14

B&N Union Square: In Conversation with Nancy Gibbs, 7:00 pm

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Washington, DC—9/10/14

Politics and Prose @ 6th and I Temple—In Conversation with Andrea Mitchell, 7:00 pm

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Boston, MA—9/14/14

JFK Library—In Conversation with Elizabeth Warren, 1:00 pm

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Philadelphia, PA—9/16/14

National Constitution Center, 6:30 pm

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Nashville, TN—9/20/14

Salon@615 with Parnassus Bookseller—In Conversation with Connie Britton, 1:30 pm

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Dallas, TX—9/21/14

Authors Live! at Hughes-Trigg Student Center at SMU—In Conversation with Naomi Aberly, 7:00 pm

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Chicago, IL—9/22/14

Chicago Council on Global Affairs at Palmer House Hilton, 12:00 pm

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Albany, NY—9/27/14

Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza at the State University of Albany, 4:00 pm

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New York, NY—9/28/14

92nd Street Y—In Conversation with Gloria Steinem, 2:30 pm

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Montclair, NJ—9/28/14

Watchung Booksellers at Montclair High School—In Conversation with Cory Booker, 6:30 pm

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“Gillibrand has written a handbook for the next generation of women to redefine their role in our world. With Off the Sidelines, Gillibrand shows that it’s not about getting to the top, or choosing between career and family—it’s simply about getting involved. In politics, in our communities, or simply mentoring somebody: When women work together, we all win.”

“My good friend Kirsten Gillibrand has written a book that is just like her: bold, impactful, and inspiring. In these pages, women will learn what is possible when we find the courage and ambition to lead.”

“Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, in offering this compellingly personal account of her journey to the U.S. Senate, fulfills a vital public purpose. Writing in a voice that is honest, funny, blunt, and strong, she urges women to get Off the Sidelines and start changing the world.”

“What do you get when a woman is the third generation of fierce, kind-hearted and brilliant political activists? You get Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who writes irresistibly, helps in real-life terms, and uses her clout to get more women elected. Off the Sidelines is one of the most helpful, readable, down to earth and truly democratic books ever to come out of the halls of power.

“Gillibrand is one of the most forward focused leaders we have working on our behalf, and Off the Sidelines is an excellent example of inspiring women to make their voices heard.

“Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s story will prove instructive to anyone who wishes to find her true north, understand power dynamics, and confront entrenched interests when justice is not served. Off the Sidelines is required reading for all women who want to change the world and recognize that to do so they must better understand political realities.”
PIPER KERMAN, author of Orange Is the New Black

“This book is intimately honest and deeply insightful. It should be on every girl’s and every woman’s reading list, and every boy’s and man’s too.”

A must-read for every woman looking to effect change. Gillibrand’s secrets to speaking up—whether it’s striving for political office, the boardroom or to improve your kid’s school—are powerful lessons for women looking to make a difference. After all, if you’ve worked hard enough to gain a seat at the table, but you say nothing, that’s a lost opportunity.”
URSULA BURNS, Chairman and CEO, Xerox Corporation

“Senator Gillibrand is a vibrant role model for her generation and makes a strong and very personal case for why we should all care about our government. Her trademark honesty and humor speak loudly to why we need women in the game.”
GERALDINE LAYBOURNE, founder, Oxygen Media and Kandu

About the Author

Kirsten Gillibrand
A magna cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College in 1988, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand went on to receive her law degree from the UCLA School of Law in 1991 and served as a law clerk on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. After working as an attorney in New York City for nearly a decade, Gillibrand served as special counsel to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo during the Clinton administration, then as an attorney before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New York’s 20th Congressional District, which spans ten counties in upstate New York. Gillibrand was first sworn in as United States senator from New York in January 2009, filling Hillary Rodham Clinton’s seat. In November 2012 she was elected to her first six-year Senate term with 72 percent of the vote, a New York State record, winning sixty of New York’s sixty-two counties. She lives in Troy, New York, with her husband, Jonathan, and their sons, Theo and Henry.


Discussion Guide for OFF THE SIDELINES by Kirsten Gillibrand by Random House Publishing Group