Victoria Reggie Kennedy
Victoria Reggie Kennedy
|United States Ambassador to Austria|
|Assumed office |
January 12, 2022
|Preceded by||Trevor Traina|
Victoria Anne Reggie
February 26, 1954
Crowley, Louisiana, U.S.
(m. 1981; div. 1990)
(m. 1992; died 2009)
|Education||Tulane University (BA, JD)|
Victoria Anne Kennedy (née Reggie; born February 26, 1954) is an American diplomat, attorney and activist who has served as the United States Ambassador to Austria since 2022. She is the widow and the second wife of longtime U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy.
A member of the well-known Kennedy family through her late husband, Kennedy was born in Louisiana and became a practicing attorney after attending Tulane University Law School. As a partner at Keck, Mahin & Cate, she specialized in financial law. Kennedy was appointed as ambassador by President Joe Biden in 2021 and confirmed unanimously by the US Senate.
Early life and education
The second of six children, Victoria Anne Reggie was born in Crowley in Acadia Parish in southwestern Louisiana. Her father, Edmund Reggie, was a Louisiana judge and banker, and her mother, Doris Ann Boustany, was a Democratic National committeewoman. Reggie is of Lebanese descent, as all of her grandparents were Maronites from Lebanon who immigrated to the United States and later settled to Louisiana. Reggie's grandparents became important members of the local Roman Catholic church, and later their children became involved in business and politics.
Reggie's immediate family was wealthy because of money from her maternal family's interest in the Bunny Bread baking concern in New Orleans. She was raised in a family that was constantly involved in politics and campaigns. At the 1956 Democratic National Convention, her father helped deliver his state for John F. Kennedy's unsuccessful bid for the vice-presidential nomination. Over time, John Kennedy developed a close social relationship with the Reggies. Her mother cast the only Louisiana delegate vote for Ted Kennedy at the 1980 Democratic National Convention,
Victoria Reggie attended parochial schools growing up and was a straight-A student. She attended Newcomb College at Tulane University in New Orleans, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English, magna cum laude, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was president of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She then received her Juris Doctor degree, summa cum laude in 1979 from Tulane University Law School. There she was a member of the Tulane Law Review. Her education at Tulane, along with twenty years of other Tulane tuition for her brothers and sisters, was paid for by scholarships awarded by a political ally of her father.
After law school, Reggie clerked for Judge Robert Arthur Sprecher at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. As an attorney, she specialized in banking law.
Gun control advocacy
Kennedy is president and co-founder of Common Sense about Kids and Guns, an advocacy group begun in 1999 which seeks to reduce gun deaths and injuries to children in the U.S. She is a member of the board of trustees of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and has served on the board of Stop Handgun Violence in Boston. She is a board member of Catholic Democrats and authored the preface for their 2009 book The Catholic Case for Obama.
Reports indicated that the Senator Kennedy expressed the wish that his wife would succeed him in office, and speculation towards that possibility continued during his illness.
Upon his death, some thought that she would be appointed by then-Governor Deval Patrick to take the Senator's seat until the special election could take place, but she declined and the governor instead appointed long-time Kennedy associate Paul G. Kirk. Some Democratic officials hoped she would agree to run for Senate to finish out her husband's term, but she declined again and instead endorsed Martha Coakley for the special election to fill the vacant seat. Coakley was defeated by Scott Brown. A year later, speculation continued as some noted Democrats saw her as their best chance to take back Senator Kennedy's former seat from Brown and the Republicans in the 2012 election; however, she again declined, and the Democratic nomination was awarded to Elizabeth Warren, who went on to defeat Brown in November 2012.
Kennedy was invited to speak at the spring commencement of the Catholic Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts, but at the request of Bishop Robert Joseph McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, Kennedy was disinvited by the college. The bishop and other Catholic organizations had expressed reservations about a stalwart pro-choice advocate like Kennedy speaking at a Catholic university.
In February 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated her to serve as a governor of the United States Postal Service (a member of the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service), for a term expiring December 8, 2016. Had she been confirmed, Kennedy would assume the board seat being vacated by Carolyn L. Gallagher. The nomination expired with the end of Obama's term as president.
U.S. ambassador to Austria
In 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden nominated Kennedy to serve as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Austria. In mid-June, the office of Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen had confirmed the required "agreement" for Kennedy's appointment was issued. On October 5, 2021, a hearing on her nomination was held before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On October 19, 2021, her nomination was reported favorably out of committee. On October 26, 2021, Kennedy was confirmed by the Senate by voice vote. Her swearing in as the United States Ambassador to Austria took place at Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on November 16, 2021, with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer administering her oath of office. She arrived in Vienna on January 7, 2022, and presented her credentials to President Alexander Van der Bellen on January 12, 2022.
She met her first husband, Grier C. Raclin, a telecommunications attorney (who later became a senior executive at Charter Communications in St. Louis, Missouri), when they clerked together at the Everett McKinley Dirksen Federal Courthouse. Their 1981 church wedding was in Crowley and "feted four hundred guests with a week's worth of parties."
Following marriage, the couple moved to Washington, D.C., where she practiced banking and savings and loan law and restructuring and bankruptcy law for Keck, Mahin & Cate. She was made partner there, and was known to be "charismatic and hard-driving" and a tough negotiator in settlement talks and "as a real star" for her ability to work on complicated financial transactions. Reggie and Raclin had two children, Curran (born 1982) and Caroline (born 1985). They were divorced in 1990. Upon her divorce, she was left to juggle her career as a lawyer with her role as a single mother of two young children.
Marriage to Ted Kennedy
Kennedy and Reggie began dating in June 1991 after meeting at a party celebrating her parents' 40th wedding anniversary. Ted Kennedy said of this meeting, "I had known Vicki before, but this was the first time I think I really saw her." The relationship became serious in September 1991. They were engaged in March 1992, and married July 3, 1992, in a civil ceremony at his home in McLean, Virginia. His political career had suffered from a long period of womanizing, drinking, and adverse publicity, and she is credited with stabilizing his personal life and helping him resume a productive career in the Senate. Kennedy was devoted to her two children.
In Ted Kennedy's 1994 senatorial re-election campaign against moderate Republican Mitt Romney, she was credited by The New York Times with "giving him a political advantage in a difficult contest." For a Boston, Massachusetts, reception she organized, 1,200 influential New England women met five of Kennedy's Senate colleagues. Kennedy became Ted's principal assistant and closest political advisor. By 1997, she no longer practiced law. Following Ted Kennedy's May 2008 diagnosis of brain cancer, Kennedy became his primary caregiver.
- ^ "The Kennedys". American Experience. PBS. October 2, 2003. Archived from the original (film; transcript available) on March 13, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2009.
- ^ a b c d Rimer, Sarah (September 24, 1994). "The 1994 Campaign; Kennedy's Wife Is Giving Him a Political Advantage in a Difficult Contest". The New York Times. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
- ^ a b c d e f g Kahn, Joseph P. (February 19, 2009). "An Untidy Private Life, Then a Turn to Stability". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 20, 2009.
- ^ a b c d e Hersh, Burton (1997). The Shadow President: Ted Kennedy in Opposition. Steerforth Press. pp. 105–109. ISBN 1-883642-30-2.
- ^ a b Gliatto, Tom (March 30, 1992). "Time to Marry? Right, Said Ted". People. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
- ^ a b c d e f Romano, Lois (June 7, 2008). "Senator's Wife Is His First Mate, Adviser and Caregiver". The Washington Post via The Ledger. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
- ^ a b c Adam Clymer (1999). Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography. William Morrow. pp. 492–493. ISBN 0-688-14285-0.
- ^ a b "Common Sense about Kids and Guns: Kennedy Bio". Archived from the original on September 7, 2006. Retrieved August 4, 2006.
Mrs. Kennedy received her undergraduate degree, a B.A. magna cum laude, from Newcomb College of Tulane University, in New Orleans, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and other honor societies and was involved in student government. She was graduated summa cum laude from the Tulane Law School in 1979, where she was an editor of the Tulane Law Review and was inducted in the Order of the Coif. In May 1998, Mrs. Kennedy received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Suffolk University Law School in Boston for her service to her community.
- ^ Tyler, Bridges (October 15, 1995). "Records Reveal More Perks to the Powerful; The Tulane Scholarship Scandal Part II". The Times-Picayune.
- ^ "Louisiana Scholarships Have Political Pedigree". The New York Times. October 17, 1995. Retrieved October 28, 2008.
- ^ Bishop, Ian (May 22, 2008). "Ted Kennedy: I'd Like Wife to Take Seat". Daily News.
- ^ Fee, Gayle; Raposa, Laura (February 20, 2009). "Is Vicki Kennedy Ready to Succeed?". Boston Herald. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
- ^ Parnes, Amie (August 29, 2009). "Next Step Not Clear for Vicki Kennedy". The Politico. Accessed 2009-09-01.
- ^ Healy, Orla (August 30, 2009). "Race to Follow Ted Waits for Family to Make up their Minds". Irish Independent. Accessed 2009-09-01.
- ^ LeBlanc, Steve (August 30, 2009). "Push begins to choose successor to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat". AP via masslive.com. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
- ^ "Victoria Kennedy endorses Martha Coakley in race for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat". AP via masslive.com. January 7, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
- ^ Akers, Mary Ann; Philip Rucker (August 15, 2010). "Prominent Democrats want Kennedy's widow to run for his Senate seat". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
- ^ Lehigh, Scot (January 12, 2011). "A word with Kennedy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
- ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (June 2, 2012). "Warren Fends Off Party Challenger in Massachusetts Race". The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
- ^ "Catholic College Cancels Kennedy as Commencement Speaker at Request of Bishop « Campus Notes". Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- ^ Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate | whitehouse.gov
- ^ Urbanski, Al (July 15, 2014). "Postal Board Nominees Would Hand Rate-Setting Authority to USPS". Direct Marketing News. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
Attorney and consultant Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, said she was cautious on the issue of raising rates and would defer judgment until she gains more experience on the board.
- ^ Staff Writer (July 14, 2021). "Austria approves Victoria Kennedy as new US envoy, report says". The Boston Globe. The Associated Press. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
- ^ "PN1031 - Nomination of Victoria Reggie Kennedy for Department of State, 117th Congress (2021-2022)". www.congress.gov. October 26, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
- ^ "SFRC Approves 33 Critical Foreign Policy Nominations" (Press release). Washington, D.C.: United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. October 19, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
- ^ Kelly, Laura (October 26, 2021). "Senate confirms four Biden ambassadors after delay". The Hill. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
- ^ "Edward M. Kennedy Institute Hosts Victoria Reggie Kennedy's swearing-in as Ambassador to Austria, names her President Emerita" (Press release). Communications Department. Edward M. Kennedy Institute. December 14, 2021. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
- ^ Burton, Alice (January 7, 2022). "Designierte US-Botschafterin Victoria Reggie Kennedy in Wien gelandet" (in German). APA-OTS. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
- ^ @USAmbAustria (January 12, 2022). "Today, I was honored to meet President Alexander @vanderbellen and present my credentials. I look forward to working hard to strengthen our bilateral ties with Austria!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- ^ Staff writer (Undated). "Corporate Governance — Biography; Grier C. Raclin — Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer". Charter Communications. Accessed September 1, 2009.
- ^ Blumenfeld, Laura. (1992-03-20, page b.01). "Victoria Reggie, Ready for Teddy; Her Friends and Family Agree. She's Perfect for Him", The Washington Post.
- ^ Trueheart, Charles (1992-03-15, page A.05). "Kennedy Announces Plans to Wed Washington Lawyer." The Washington Post.
- ^ "Ted Kennedy, Victoria Reggie Wed". AP News. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
- "Victoria Reggie Kennedy" Archived September 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, her biography at Common Sense about Kids and Guns
- "Victoria Reggie and Ted Kennedy Marriage Profile", (undated) by Sheri Stritof and Bob Stritof at About.com
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- 1954 births
- Living people
- Ambassadors of the United States to Austria
- American gun control activists
- American people of Lebanese descent
- American women ambassadors
- Catholics from Louisiana
- Catholics from Massachusetts
- Illinois lawyers
- Kennedy family
- Louisiana lawyers
- Lawyers from Washington, D.C.
- Massachusetts Democrats
- People from Barnstable, Massachusetts
- People from Crowley, Louisiana
- Spouses of Massachusetts politicians
- Ted Kennedy
- Tulane University alumni
- Tulane University Law School alumni
- American women diplomats