Teresa Heinz Kerry

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Teresa Heinz Kerry, in full Maria Teresa Thierstein Simões-Ferreira Heinz Kerry (born October 5, 1938), is a philanthropist and the wife of U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who was the Democratic challenger and who lost in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.


Early life

Teresa Heinz Kerry was born to Portuguese parents in Mozambique, which was a colony of Portugal at the time. Her father was Dr. José Simões-Ferreira, and her mother was Irene Thierstein.

Heinz Kerry grew up in Mozambique's capital, Lourenço Marques (now called Maputo). Her father was a medical doctor, and "Teresinha" (the diminutive of Teresa in Portuguese) led a relatively privileged life. Her father would, however, often bring her along on his calls into the African bush, where she witnessed how those of lesser means lived.

Heinz Kerry earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Romance Languages and literature from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She graduated from the Interpreters School of the University of Geneva (Switzerland) before moving to the United States to work at the United Nations as a translator. She is fluent in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and her native Portuguese.

Marriages and children

Heinz Kerry married future Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Henry John Heinz III of the Heinz family famous for their food products on February 5, 1966 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A few years after the marriage, in 1971, she became a naturalized United States citizen. The couple had three sons: John Heinz IV (born 1967), Andre Heinz (born 1970) and Christopher Drake Heinz (born 1973).

Heinz Kerry met John F. Kerry in 1990 at an Earth Day rally, after being introduced by Senator Heinz. This was the only known time that she and John Kerry met before the death of Senator Heinz. After Senator Heinz died in an airplane crash on April 4, 1991 in Pennsylvania, Heinz Kerry inherited his vast fortune. She and John Kerry ran into each other again in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 at the Earth Summit, which Ms. Heinz attended as a member of a State Department delegation by appointment by President George H. W. Bush. Their courtship began in 1993, and they were married on May 26, 1995 on Nantucket, Massachusetts. This was also the second marriage for Senator Kerry.


Heinz Kerry is the life estate beneficiary or outright beneficiary of her husband's trusts, making her either extremely wealthy in her own name, or powerful as a trustee of Heinz family wealth. Sen. Kerry is wealthy in his own right, though not to the same degree, since he became a trust fund beneficiary of his mother's and Forbes family trusts. Sen. Kerry and Heinz Kerry signed a prenuptial agreement and have kept their premarital assets separate.

To date, Heinz Kerry has declined to disclose her personal tax returns, citing family trusts and privacy. She is estimated to be worth between $750 million and $1 billion. According to her most recently released income tax of 2003, the Kerrys paid an effective federal income tax rate of 12%. Most of her income was derived from tax free municipal bonds, which explains the low rate.


Heinz Kerry is the chair of The Howard Heinz Endowment and the Heinz Family Philanthropies (collectively, the Heinz foundations), disbursing money to various social and environmental causes. She assists the community of Pittsburgh, where the Heinz family has had so many financial and family connections. In recognition of her philanthropy and activism, Heinz Kerry has received ten honorary doctorate degrees from the following institutions:

Heinz Kerry was awarded the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism in 2003. She has been elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was also a trustee of New England Prep School, St. Paul's School, which her husband John Kerry attended.


Heinz Kerry was a registered Republican for most of her voting career, and her first husband, Senator Heinz, ran as a Republican. In January of 2003, she changed her registration to the Democratic Party. Heinz Kerry has stated that she switched party affiliations to protest the campaign tactics Republican Saxby Chambliss used against Democrat Max Cleland in the 2002 Georgia senatorial election. Many, including Heinz Kerry, felt that advertisements by the Chambliss campaign questioned (by innuendo) the patriotism of Cleland, a triple-amputee Vietnam veteran. When interviewed about the registration change, she remarked: "Let me just say having been married to a Republican, wonderful man, who was the old kind of Republican that we used to have once upon a time, the Republicanism of this administration is neither Republican nor conservative. There are good people in both parties. These people are not Republicans."

She is said to have been encouraged to run for her husband's vacant Senate seat after his death. She declined; she also refused to endorse Republican Rick Santorum's bid for the seat, publically denouncing him as the "antithesis" of her late husband.

Two of her sons are believed to be Democrats. Christopher and André Heinz both spoke at the Democratic National Convention in July of 2004. Christopher is believed to be considering running for the House or the Senate from the state of Pennsylvania. John Heinz IV keeps a lower profile, and his political leanings are unclear.

Had Senator Kerry been elected President, Heinz Kerry would have been only the second foreign-born First Lady of the United States, after the British-born Louisa Adams, wife of President John Quincy Adams in the 1820's.

Public relations

Heinz Kerry has a reputation in the media as a very direct personality, unwilling to spin her comments for public consumption. This perception has led to a good deal of attention being paid to Heinz Kerry; she has drawn opposition from those who disagree with her comments, while others applaud her willingness to display her own opinion (in contrast with the usual politician's wife, who is expected to master "The Adoring Gaze").

The "shove it" incident

Right before the 2004 Democratic National Convention in late July, 2004, Heinz Kerry hit her first public relations snafu when being questioned by Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial page editor, Colin McNickle. Earlier that day, at a reception at the Massachusetts Statehouse, Heinz Kerry was videotaped saying, "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics." [1] When questioned by the editor of a conservative newspaper as to why she had said that political conventions were "un-American," she repeatedly stated that she did not. After conferring with colleagues, Heinz Kerry told McNickle, "You're from the Tribune-Review—understandable. You said something I didn't say. Now shove it."

She also accused the newspaper he worked for of being a "right-wing rag," accusing him of media bias because the paper was owned by a prominent conservative figure, Richard Mellon Scaife. The paper had previously falsely accused Heinz Kerry of having a lesbian affair and funding violent Islamist groups.

The incident, which happened one day before the Convention was to commence, spurred some criticisms but was publicly endorsed by her husband and other Democrats. New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave her support for her comment and said, "A lot of Americans are going to say, 'Good for you, you go, girl,' and that's certainly how I feel about it." [2]

The Laura Bush incident

In an interview published in the USA Today, Teresa Heinz Kerry was asked about the differences between the first lady and herself:

"Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job—I mean, since she's been grown up. So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things." [3]

Almost immediately news stations across the country picked up the story. Conservative talk shows and news stations heavily criticized Heinz Kerry, stating Bush has been employed as a teacher and librarian in the past, and the president's family was 'not a subject for politics'.

Teresa said in a statement later saying she was "sincerely sorry" for the remark: "I had forgotten that Mrs. Bush had worked as a schoolteacher and librarian, and there couldn't be a more important job than teaching our children," Heinz Kerry said. "As someone who has been both a full time mom and full time in the workforce, I know we all have valuable experiences that shape who we are. I appreciate and honor Mrs. Bush's service to the country as first lady, and am sincerely sorry I had not remembered her important work in the past." [4]

Senior Bush campaign adviser Karen Hughes called Teresa's remarks "inappropriate" and claimed the apology made things worse: "I think it's very nice that she apologized, but in some ways the apology almost made the comment worse because she seems to have forgotten that being a mother is a real job. I think it's just unfortunate to try to disparage women who have made the choice of making their families a priority." [5]

Laura Bush brushed the whole thing off saying ,"It didn't matter to me. It didn't hurt my feelings. It was perfectly all right that she apologized. She didn't have to apologize. I know how tough it is. And actually I know those trick questions." [6]

"Official Bio"

From the John Kerry campaign website on Teresa Heinz Kerry is "chairman of The Heinz Endowments and the Heinz Family Philanthropies, institutions dedicated to developing innovative strategies to protect the environment, improve education, enhance the lives of young children, broaden economic opportunity and promote the arts.

"Teresa has helped educate women on the importance of pensions, savings, and retirement security. She established the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, a Washington-based think tank and underwrote publication of a nationally-acclaimed book, Pensions in Crisis and a magazine supplement, What Every Woman Needs to Know About Money and Retirement. The supplement was published in Good Housekeeping and US Airway's Attach� magazine and has been translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

"She directed development of the Heinz Plan to Overcome Prescription Drug Expenses (HOPE), a program to make prescription drugs affordable for older Americans in Massachusetts. Similar programs have been studied or adopted in seven other states, including Pennsylvania, Maine and Mississippi.

"She established the prestigious Heinz Awards, an annual program recognizing outstanding vision and achievement in the arts, public policy, technology, the environment, and the human condition.

"A longtime environmentalist, she created the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment to develop scientifically sound environmental policies. She has endowed two environmental chairs at Harvard, sponsors scholarship programs for graduate students studying environmental issues and undergraduate minority group students who study science. She also sponsors an annual conference on Women's Health and the Environment in Boston.

"She serves on many boards including Environmental Defense, the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and the Advisory Council for the Center for Children's Health and the Environment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is a trustee of the Brookings Institution and sits on the Visiting Committee for the Kennedy School and the school-wide environmental committee for Harvard University. She serves on the board of the American Institute for Public Service (Jefferson Awards) and is a fellow for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

"Born and raised in Mozambique, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in romance languages and literature from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa and graduated from the Interpreters School of the University of Geneva. Teresa Heinz Kerry, formerly Teresa Sim�es-Ferreira, is married to U.S. Senator John Forbes Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat. She has three sons, John, Andr� and Christopher Heinz, and one grandchild." [7]

After her husband, John Kerry became the Democratic front runner for the 2004 Presidential election, conservatives sought to target her philanthropic work. [8]. In particulr, the Executive Director of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Ron Arnold - a Republican - wrote a profile for Foundation Watch, a publication of the conservative Capital Research Center. [9] (See Ron Arnold and Teresa Heinz Kerry).

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