Arline Kiven joined the Community College of Rhode Island as a history instructor in February 1966. She was promoted to the rank of professor in 1980 and was active in college activities, humanities and the Faculty Association. She served as head of the Faculty Concourse in the early 1970s and then as a president of the Faculty Association. She retired from CCRI in 1984.
Kiven wanted to become a school teacher, but was dissuaded by her father who said teaching jobs were scarce in the Depression and that nursing was a better choice. After high school, she became a registered nurse.
At age 33, Kiven developed cancer and her leg was amputated. Feeling depressed and that her life was over, her husband, Nathan, encouraged her to return to college and become a teacher. She enrolled at Rhode Island College in 1956 and completed a bachelor’s degree in Education in three years.
At the same time, friends urged Kiven to become active in the Providence League of Women Voters. She served as president for two years and as director of the Rhode Island League of Women Voters. She entered politics through her work with the league and assisted Governor Dennis Roberts with his campaign in 1960. Following that, the Democrats asked her to be their nominee in her district in Providence.
Kiven served two terms in the House of Representatives. Vigorous and energetic, she became a leader on the issue of fair housing. She was a reformer and kept this issue alive until a bill was passed in 1965.
Upon retirement from CCRI, Kiven devoted herself to community service activities. She was a founding member of the Mount Hope Day Care Center and served on the boards of many organizations.