Victoria Reggie Kennedy is an attorney, gun violence prevention advocate and co-founder of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

By Virginia Chamlee
July 22, 2021 10:47 AM
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Victoria Reggie Kennedy speaks after she received a Lifetime Achievement award during Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce annual Pinnacle Awards on Thursday, January 28, 2016
Victoria Reggie Kennedy
| Credit: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty

Victoria Reggie Kennedy — the widow of late Sen. Ted Kennedy — has been nominated to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Austria, the White House announced on Wednesday.

Kennedy, 67, is co-founder and president of the board of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate — a non-partisan non-profit that educates the public about the U.S. Senate — and is senior counsel at the international law firm Greenberg Traurig.

She is also a gun violence prevention advocate, having founded the group Common Sense about Kids and Guns and previously serving on the board of trustees of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Kennedy has known the President Joe Biden for years. Her late husband Ted served in the Senate from 1962 until his death in 2009, working alongside Biden in the chamber. Ted was the younger brother of former President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Attorney General and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

According to a 2009 ABC News profile, Kennedy first met Ted when she worked as a summer intern in his Senate office. Years later, they caught up at her parents' 1991 anniversary party (at the time, she was a divorced mother of two with a career as an attorney).

She spoke of their courtship as "old-fashioned" and "slow-paced" in a 1992 interview with Boston TV station WCVB, saying "He'd come over for dinner and kind of hang out and help the children with their homework … and it a gradual deepening of a family friendship into something that was a lot more."

Following their marriage, Kennedy became Ted's most trusted political advisor, with late American journalist Cokie Roberts once saying "It would not surprise me if she decided to run for the Senate. She knows politics. She knows substance. It's normal for someone who's been that involved to want to stay involved."

Ted Kennedy died on August 25, 2009, of a malignant brain tumor at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

In addition to announcing his nomination of Kennedy, the White House also announced that it would nominate Comcast executive David Cohen to serve as his ambassador to Canada and South Carolina attorney Jamie Harpootlia (the wife of Democratic state Sen. Dick Harpootlia) as ambassador to Slovenia.

The Tuesday announcement comes on the heels of a June statement in which Biden said he would be nominating Cindy McCain, a key Republican ally and the widow of his late friend Sen. John McCain, to be the U.S. representative to the United Nations' agencies for food and agriculture.

If confirmed by the Senate, McCain will be one of the few high-profile Republican picks in the Biden administration.