Teresa Heinz Kerry is an influential figure in American politics, business and philanthropy. She is best known as the widow of former U.S. Senator John Heinz (heir to HJ Heinz Co), currently married to United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry as well as being his Secretary of State, Senator and presidential nominee husband; in addition to being chairperson for both Heinz Endowments and Heinz Family Philanthropies which support various social and environmental causes.
Early Life and Education
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Teresa Heinz was born Maria Teresa Thierstein Simoes-Ferreira on October 5, 1938 in Maputo, Mozambique (then a colony of Portugal). Her father was a Portuguese oncologist and tropical disease specialist while her mother was Portuguese-British national of Swiss-German, French and Italian ancestry – creating an environment with multiple nationalities who spoke five different languages together in her home environment.
She attended the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, earning a Bachelor’s of Romance Languages and Literature degree in 1960. Following this she relocated to Switzerland where she received a Master’s of Translation and Interpretation at University of Geneva before coming back home to work as an interpreter at United Nations headquarters in New York.
Marriages and Family
Marriages and Family Teresa Heinz married John Heinz, an heir of the H. J. Heinz Company fortune, on February 5, 1966 at Heinz Chapel in Pittsburgh. Together they had three sons: Henry John Heinz IV, Andre Thierstein Heinz, and Christopher Drake Heinz; Teresa became naturalized in 1971.
John Heinz was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971, then to the U.S. Senate in 1976 as a Republican from Pennsylvania before his tragic plane crash death on April 4th 1991.
Teresa Heinz first met Democratic senator from Massachusetts John Kerry at an Earth Day rally in 1990 and then again at Rio de Janeiro for Earth Summit 1992, when Teresa served on a State Department delegation appointed by President George H. W. Bush to Rio. They began dating that year, eventually marrying on May 26th 1995 at Nantucket, Massachusetts – Teresa became known as Teresa Heinz Kerry during his presidential run in 2004.
Business and Philanthropy
Teresa Heinz was one of the many beneficiaries to inherit an estimated fortune worth over $1 billion from her late husband’s trusts, estimated at an estimated total value of over a billion. Additionally, she became chair of two prominent American private foundations – Heinz Endowments and Heinz Family Philanthropies. These foundations oversee grant distribution to various organizations which focus on areas such as healthcare, education, arts & culture, environmentalism, social justice & economic development issues.
She is involved with various other philanthropic initiatives, including Alliance to End Hunger, Environmental Defense Fund, Aspen Institute, Women’s Health Issues and more. For her humanitarian efforts she has received several honors including Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism; Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service; Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.
Politics and Activism
Teresa Heinz has long been an enthusiastic supporter of her husband’s political career since they wed. She campaigned hard during his unsuccessful 2004 presidential bid against George W. Bush as well as during his term as Secretary of State under Barack Obama from 2013-17. Furthermore, Teresa has voiced her own opinions on various topics including health care reform, climate change mitigation measures, women’s rights advocacy as well as foreign policy matters.
She initially registered as a Republican before switching over to the Democratic Party in 2003. Since then, she has been critical of many Republican policies and politicians, such as Donald Trump whom she labeled a traitor for his reported ties to Russia. Additionally, her outspokenness caused some controversy at 2004 Democratic National Convention when she told a reporter to “shove it”.
Legacy and Influence
Teresa Heinz Kerry is widely considered one of the most influential women in America. She has earned recognition for her successes in business, philanthropy and diplomacy – as well as for her courage, intelligence and elegance – making her an inspiring role model for those trying to balance personal and professional lives. Time magazine featured Teresa as one of its “100 Most Influential People”, Forbes Magazine honored her as one of their “100 Most Powerful Women”, while Vanity Fair magazine recognized her among their “New Establishment”.