About Me

The Engel-Saleska Family (left-to-right): Helene (daughter), Kirsten, Gracie (dachshund), Joan (mother), Scott (husband), Ron (father), Zoey (poodle)

The Engel-Saleska Family (left-to-right): Helene (daughter), Kirsten, Gracie (dachshund), Joan (mother), Scott (husband), Ron (father), Zoey (poodle)


As a mom, an Educator, and an ArizonaN, I saw first hand what was going wrong.

When I first considered running for the Arizona House, it was because of a call to duty. I was serving on the Site Council of my daughter’s Elementary School and teaching Law to the next generation of public interest lawyers at the University of Arizona. As both a mom and an educator, I saw first-hand how our failure to fund education was harming our students and putting their and Arizona’s future at risk.

Our public schools were facing millions in Deferred Maintenance, our teachers were spending hundreds and more out-of-pocket for supplies, and our higher education students were having their potential restricted by tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Something had to change.

My background was as an environmental lawyer, a public servant, and an educator.

Throughout my career, I have fought for the public interest both as an educator and on the inside and outside of government entities meant to protect us. My first job out of Law School was Clerking for the late Hon. Myron H. Bright before taking a job as a Staff Attorney with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, followed by work for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and as Acting Chief for the Environmental Protection Division and Senior Counsel of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

As an educator, I’ve taught as an Associate Professor at Tulane Law and Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard Law, Vanderbilt School of Law, and Boalt Hall at the University of California School of Law before landing as a full-time Professor of Law at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. My family and I moved to Tucson in 2005 to bring my expertise and passion for Environmental and Administrative Law (while my husband brought his expertise and passion for Ecological Biology) to the students of Southern Arizona. At James E. Rogers, I served as the Director of the Environmental Law Program and Certificate Program, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and have facilitated the Arizona Journal for Environmental Law and Policy and the Environmental Law Society as a faculty advisor, both while developing curriculum and classes to expand the skill set aspiring public interest and environmental lawyers coming through our program. Many of these classes have centered around issues I’ve also contributed to legal texts, including Environmental & Climate Change Federalism with focuses in State Climate Change and the Limitations of Federal Climate Change Policy.

I ran for the arizona house to fight for the arizona people and environment.

It was too frustrating seeing the way Arizona had been run. The leadership stopped valuing education, stopped protecting our environment and precious water resources, and failing to take advantage of our potential for renewable energy. I ran for the Arizona House on a platform of Es: “Education, Environment, Economy”. This was before Red for Ed turned the conversation about public education funding on its head and before the Drought Contingency Plans forced an uncomfortable look at how close our state is to high-risk drought conditions. This was before even I realized how bad our Criminal Justice system was broken, now making Arizona the 4th highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate.

The learning curve of my first Legislative Session opened my eyes to the full extent of how Arizona was being let down. I became a Democratic leader on the Environment and Judiciary Committees, driving debates about promoting renewable energy and water conservation and working to build a bipartisan coalition to tackle Arizona’s terrible sentencing laws that continue to diminish Arizona’s potential and drain about 10% of our annual budget to private prisons. I have stood in solidarity with educators as they demanded fully funding their schools, not just for salaries that are competitive with similar college-educated workers and neighbor states but also for well-maintained infrastructure and adequately supplied classrooms.

Visit my page at the Arizona Legislature website to see bills I’ve sponsored here.

That’s why I’m running for the arizona senate in 2020.

There is so much work to be done and we need strong leaders in every corner we can get them. With our Senate Minority Leader David Bradley retiring, there are big shoes to fill representing East Tucson in the Arizona Senate.

I am the mom, the educator, the woman to step up to this fight.