Dedication to Service
Tulsi learned from a young age the importance of serving others and living aloha. Inspired and motivated by this spirit of aloha, Tulsi took this lesson to heart, and has tried to live her life dedicated to serving the people of Hawaiʻi.
From a very young age, Tulsi has shown a passion for public service. Her commitment to serving the community and making a positive impact has influenced every major decision in her life. Her service has included working with at-risk youth, joining the Hawaiʻi National Guard and deploying twice to the Middle East, being elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature and the Honolulu City Council, having the honor of serving Hawaiʻi's people in the U.S. Senate as legislative aide to Senator Daniel K. Akaka, continuing her ongoing work and leadership on environmental issues and projects, and now serving in Congress as the Representative for Hawaiʻi’s 2nd Congressional District.
The Early Years
Tulsi was born in 1981 in Leloaloa, American Samoa, the fourth of five children born to Carol and State Senator Mike Gabbard. At the age of two, the family moved to Hawaiʻi, where they first settled in Wahiawa on Royal Palm Drive, where Tulsi’s sister, Vrindavan, the family’s youngest, was born.
Learning First-Hand About Small Business
Tulsi learned the challenges and rewards of small business at an early age, helping her parents with two successful family businesses, including “Hawaiian Toffee Treasures.” The long hours, hard work, and uncertainties inherent in getting a small business off the ground gave Tulsi first-hand experience in the business world and prompted her to focus on business in college, graduating from Hawaiʻi Pacific University with a degree in International Business.
The Youngest Person Ever Elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature
In 2002, Tulsi, at 21 years old, became the youngest person ever elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature. In this unprecedented election to the Hawaiʻi State House of Representatives, Tulsi was chosen to represent District 42 in West O'ahu. She was an effective, admired, and hard-working legislator who served on the Education, Higher Education, Tourism, and Economic Development committees.
A Truly Remarkable Military Career Highlighted by Self-sacrifice and Bravery
In 2004, when Tulsi's fellow soldiers from the 29th Brigade were called to war in Iraq, Tulsi volunteered to join them. She didn't need to put her life on the line. She could have stayed in the State House of Representatives, but in her heart, she felt it was more important to stand in solidarity with her fellow soldiers than to climb the political ladder.
Her two deployments to the war-torn and dangerous Middle East revealed both Tulsi’s natural inclination to self-less service and her ability to perform well in situations demanding confidence, courage, and the ability to perform well as a member of a team. The same maturity and character that served Tulsi well in the Middle East makes her exceptionally effective in the political world.
Serving Hawaiʻi’s people in the U.S. Senate as legislative aide to Senator Daniel Akaka
In 2006, Tulsi went to Washington D.C. to serve in the U.S. Senate as legislative aide to Senator Daniel K. Akaka. There, she advised Senator Akaka on issues relating to energy independence, homeland security, the environment, and veteran affairs. Tulsi was proud to serve with Senator Akaka and continues to be inspired by his mentorship and deep love and aloha for the people of Hawaiʻi and his commitment to public service.
Protecting Our ʻAina - Co-founding the Healthy Hawaiʻi Coalition
At the age of 19, Tulsi co-founded Healthy Hawaiʻi Coalition (HHC), a non-profit grassroots organization whose mission is to protect the environment and improve individual and community health. Tulsi was instrumental in developing HHC’s watershed education curriculum, which has been presented to more than 50 public and private schools statewide. Through Healthy Hawaiʻi Coalition, Tulsi is active on issues impacting public health and the environment within communities across the state.
Serving on The Honolulu City Council
After returning home from her second deployment to the Middle East in 2009, Tulsi offered to serve on the Honolulu City Council and was elected on November 3, 2010. Tulsi served as Chair of the Safety, Economic Development, and Government Affairs committee, as Vice Chair of the Budget committee and as a member of the Zoning and Public Works committee. In her capacity as committee chair, Tulsi took the lead on many important issues such as medical waste, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), dengue fever, and creating new economic opportunities through Honolulu’s first Sister City Summit.
Elected to Congress
In 2012, Tulsi Gabbard ran for U.S. House of Representatives for Hawaiʻi's 2nd Congressional District and defeated the former mayor of Honolulu in an upset victory in the Democratic Primary. Tulsi went on to win the general election by nearly 80 points. Tulsi’s upset victory in the 2012 House race marked her latest achievement in a life filled with one extraordinary accomplishment after another. But Tulsi was not done setting “first ever” milestones.
On January 3, 2013, the day that Tulsi Gabbard took her official oath of office in the U.S. House of Representatives, she became the first person, of any age or gender, to be elected to Congress who is of Samoan heritage. She is currently the youngest female serving in Congress and is also one of only two female combat veterans in the U.S. House (the other is Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois) Finally, Tulsi is the first American Hindu ever elected to Congress.
Like her mentors, the late U.S. Senator Dan Inouye and former U.S. Senator Dan Akaka, Tulsi embodies the aloha spirit unique to the island state of Hawaiʻi. As a mixed race woman, combat veteran, martial artist, lifelong vegetarian, and practicing Hindu, she also is the embodiment of the type of diversity which is at the very heart of what America was founded upon.
Tulsi brings to Washington an impressive list of credentials and achievements, a wealth of real-world experiences, and a deep storehouse of personal strengths and leadership qualities. Most political observers expect her to represent and serve the people of the state of Hawaiʻi and the nation in the U.S. Congress as aggressively and as well as she has done during her tenures in the Honolulu City Council and the Hawaiʻi State Legislature. And in fact, Tulsi barely paused to take a breath before she hit the ground running in Washington. As a freshman representative she has already succeeded in introducing and passing legislation to make airline travel easier for disabled veterans.
Tulsi possesses the rare combination of youth and experience. With a lifetime’s experiences seemingly compressed into three decades, it is easy to see why many people perceive in Tulsi Gabbard a maturity and depth beyond her years.