Victoria Reggie Kennedy is an attorney and advocate, especially for issues that affect the lives of women, children and families. She was a powerful advocate for the enactment of health care reform, which her late husband Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) called the cause of his life, and was standing at President Obama’s side at the White House as he signed the landmark reform legislation into law in March 2010. She continues to advocate for the law and explain its benefits to constituency groups around the country.
Described by The New York Times as “Senator Ted Kennedy's Closest Confidante, in Politics and Life,” Vicki is the co-founder and a trustee of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston which is being built on the campus of UMass Boston adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Library. The EMK Institute will educate visitors about the essential role of the US Senate in our system of government, especially focusing on how Senators have come together throughout our nation’s history to solve complex problems. The goal of the EMK Institute is to invigorate public discourse, encourage participatory democracy and inspire the next generation of citizens and leaders.
She also is a member of the Advisory Board of the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia. The Oral History Project is a multi-year effort that examined the life and career of Senator Kennedy. In pursuing this project, Vicki and Senator Kennedy wanted to contribute to the preservation of the historical record for future generations. To that end, the project has recorded hundreds of hours of interviews with Senator Kennedy and more than 150 additional interviews with his colleagues and world leaders. It was the largest oral history project of a living person ever undertaken and one of the most significant, as Senator Kennedy’s public life spanned the terms of 10 presidents.
In 1994, 2000, and 2006 Vicki played an active role in the re-election campaigns of Senator Kennedy. In connection with the 1994 campaign, she created a Massachusetts Women's Council which served as a model for other campaigns around the country. She served a co-chair of Catholics for Obama-Biden during the 2008 Presidential Campaign, and she remains active in her support of candidates in Massachusetts and around the country.
Vicki speaks and writes about issues that impact the political process as well as the lives of families such as her articles on health care, “The Moment Ted Kennedy would not want us to lose,” Washington Post, Sunday, December 20, 2009, and the politicization of religion, “The Altar is Not a Battlefield,” Washington Post, Sunday, May 23, 2004.
President Obama appointed her to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and she is also a Member of the Board of Overseers of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She is on the Boards of Catholic Democrats of Massachusetts and the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management.
Vicki co-founded Common Sense about Kids and Guns, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to reduce gun deaths and injuries to children in the United States and is a past trustee of several gun violence prevention organizations.
From 1980 to 1997, she practiced law in the private sector with special emphasis on the federal and state regulation of domestic commercial banks and savings and loan institutions. Her practice also involved the negotiation of complex loan restructurings and the giving of general corporate and strategic planning advice.
She received a BA, magna cum laude, from Newcomb College in 1976 where she was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa and several other honor societies. She received a JD, summa cum laude, from the Tulane Law School in 1979 where she was also an editor of the Tulane Law Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif. From 1979-80, prior to entering private practice, she served as a law clerk for Judge Robert A. Sprecher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago. In 1998, she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Suffolk University Law School. In 2010, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorates from Northeastern University, Emmanuel College, Lesley University and UMass Boston. She was the 2010 principal commencement speaker at the College Park campus of the University of Maryland, at UMass Boston and at Harwich High School in Harwich, Massachusetts.
She has two children, two step-children, four grandchildren and two Portuguese water dogs.