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A Passion to Right Wrongs

Kathleen Granahan Kane ‘88 was sworn in as Pennsylvania’s attorney general at the state Capitol in Harrisburg in January. Kane is the first woman and Democrat to be elected to the office. (Photo courtesy of Julie Jordan)

Alumna Makes History as Pennsylvania’s First Female Attorney General

For most people in Kathleen Granahan Kane’s position, the evening of Nov. 6, 2012, would have been a call for celebration. Not only had she been elected the first female attorney general in the history of Pennsylvania, but she also received the most votes of any candidate in any race in the state that night. 

It was a night of triumph, achievement and – presumably – relief.

Instead, for Kane ’88, it was a call to action. As she watched the returns come in with her family and campaign staff, her mind skipped over the celebration and went straight to the next step – preparing her family to meet with the media and getting ready to take office. She has two sons with her husband, Christopher J. Kane ’86. 

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s no rest for the weary,” Kathleen Kane says looking back. “I’ll probably bask in the moment, hopefully, eight years from now.”

This is how Kane has always been – direct, driven and aware of the responsibility that comes with a position. 

Kane started her work in public service in 1995, serving as an assistant district attorney for Lackawanna County, but it wasn’t her first job in law. After graduating from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 1991, she worked for a private firm, but quickly found that aside from paying off her student loans, the job did nothing for her. 

“They were great people to work for. They taught me how to be a lawyer,” Kane recalls. “But it wasn’t anything I was excited about. It wasn’t anything I had a passion for.”

Kane isn’t one to waste time, and she didn’t then. She quit her job, took a 50 percent pay cut, and moved into her sister’s spare bedroom to work in a role where she could help people. 

As an assistant district attorney she went to crime scenes, collected evidence, helped build cases, and eventually prosecuted the cases in court.

“Being able to get up every day and find justice for people who had just experienced probably the worst thing in their life meant something to me,” Kane says.

In her 13 years working for Lackawanna County, Kane prosecuted a variety of cases from the abuse of children and elderly to cases involving white collar crime, fraud and public corruption. In 2007, she accepted a position with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign before transitioning to a private law firm in Scranton.

Today, Kane brings this same passion for justice to the position of attorney general. She said her decision to run for the position was inspired by her time at The University of Scranton. When she saw the open seat, Kane viewed it as her civic responsibility to serve her community. “I think good people need to step up to the plate and I think that’s what Scranton does,” Kane says. “They teach you to jump right in and not stand on the sidelines.”

Former co-worker and classmate Gene Talerico Jr., Esq. ’89, Lackawanna County’s first assistant district attorney, explains that the people of Pennsylvania are fortunate to have Kane in their corner. Talerico worked with Kane at the district attorney’s office and views her as an extremely strong and principled woman.

“When there’s injustice and it comes before Kathleen, she’s tenacious in her pursuit. She truly is,” Talerico says. “I’ve never seen anything motivate her more than a wrong that needs to be righted.” 

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