The appointment was announced Monday by Brian Carovillano, AP's managing editor for U.S. news. Arrillaga will remain based in Phoenix, home of the AP's West Regional Desk.
Arrillaga has served as interim U.S. enterprise editor since September 2013. Her appointment is part of an AP-wide initiative to elevate the scope and ambition of enterprise reporting in the United States and around the world.
"Already, Pauline has had a major impact on how we think and talk about stories and coverage," Carovillano said. "She is a terrific coach and an expert storyteller, and in this new role she will be able to influence a much broader swath of our national report."
Arrillaga joined the AP as an intern in 1992 in Dallas. She later covered state politics in Austin, the space program and prison system in Houston and served as a desk supervisor in Dallas
In 1995, Arrillaga became correspondent in Harlingen, Texas, writing about such issues as immigration, drug trafficking and the growing influence of Hispanics in America. Four years later, she was named Southwest regional writer in Phoenix, and she was promoted to national writer in 2002. In that role, Arrillaga contributed to coverage of major news events by finding the human stories behind the headlines, and also worked to develop long-form narrative pieces.
Her stories have captured numerous accolades. In 2002, Arrillaga was awarded the Associated Press Managing Editors' top feature writing prize for her three-part narrative about a Phoenix police officer whose face was severely burned in a car explosion and his quest to recover. The organization again recognized her in 2004, 2005 and 2011 with honorable mentions in the feature writing category.
In 2005, Arrillaga won the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in local reporting for a three-part investigative serial examining the widespread smuggling of humans into the country. The piece, "Doors to Death," also was honored in the investigative reporting category by Lincoln University's Unity Awards in Media and by Columbia University for outstanding coverage of race and ethnicity.
Her story "Parents at War," which led to a change in federal law to help prevent deployed service members from losing custody of their children, placed second in the 2008 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism.
Arrillaga also has conducted numerous workshops to help journalists advance their reporting and editing skills.
Arrillaga, 43, graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism.