Barbara B. Kennelly became President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in April 2002 after a distinguished 23-year career in elected public office. Mrs. Kennelly was appointed to the Social Security Advisory Board in January 2006 and served on the Policy Committee for the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.
The Congresswoman served 17 years in the United States House of Representatives representing the First District of Connecticut, which includes Hartford and surrounding towns. Mrs. Kennelly won her congressional seat in a special election in January 1982. In 1996, she was elected to her eighth full term with over 74 percent of the vote, but did not run for reelection.
After serving in Congress, Mrs. Kennelly was appointed to the position of Counselor to the Commissioner at the Social Security Administration (SSA). As Counselor, Mrs. Kennelly worked closely with the Commissioner of Social Security Kenneth S. Apfel, and members of Congress to inform and educate the American people on the choices they face to ensure the future solvency of Social Security.
Upon leaving SSA, Mrs. Kennelly joined the law firm of Baker & Hostetler LLP, where she was a lobbyist within the federal policy practice group.
During her congressional career, Mrs. Kennelly was the first woman elected to serve as the Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. In November 1996, Congresswoman Kennelly was reelected by her colleagues to serve a second term as the Vice Chair during the 105th Congress. As Vice Chair, she ranked fourth in the elected party leadership.
Mrs. Kennelly was also the first woman to serve on the House Committee on Intelligence and to chair one of its subcommittees. She was the first woman to serve as Chief Majority Whip, and the third woman in history to serve on the 200-year-old Ways and Means Committee. During the 105th Congress, she was the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Social Security, which oversees the largest single government program in the United States.
A life-long resident of Hartford, Congresswoman Kennelly received a B.A. in Economics from Trinity College, Washington, D.C. She earned a certificate from the Harvard Business School on completion of the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration and a Master's Degree in Government from Trinity College, Hartford.
Prior to her election to Congress, Mrs. Kennelly was Secretary of the State of Connecticut and a member of the Hartford Court of Common Council. Her late husband, James, was Speaker of the Connecticut State House. Mrs. Kennelly has three daughters and a son. She also has ten grandchildren. Among her many civic involvements, Mrs. Kennelly serves as Vice Chair of the Advisory Board of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut. Mrs. Kennelly also serves on the Board of Directors of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress; the International Foundation for Election Systems; the Board of Electors, Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut; and the Advisory Boards of BNA’s Medicare Report and the Washington Center.