Barbara Bailey Kennelly is the President and founder of Barbara Kennelly Associates. She represented Connecticut’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years, handily winning elections nine times with a combination of strong constituent service and labor support.
While in the House, Mrs. Kennelly rose through the leadership ranks as Chief Majority Whip and a member of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. She was also elected to the position of Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, which made her the highest ranking Democratic woman at that time. She was only the third woman in history to serve on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and the first woman to serve on the House Intelligence Committee. Although she was a key member of the Democratic leadership, she also served at a time when bi-partisanship was an important element of legislative success. She developed relationships with Republican Members of Congress and used her considerable communications skills to bridge the partisan divide on issues important to her constituency.
After serving in Congress, she was appointed to the position of Counselor to the Commissioner at the Social Security Administration. She served on the Policy Committee for the 2005 White House Conference on Aging and was appointed to the Social Security Advisory Board by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in 2006 and reappointed in 2012. Mrs. Kennelly recently completed nine years as President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, an organization representing almost 4 million seniors and their advocates.
During her many years in Democratic politics, Mrs. Kennelly has worked with progressive organizations and the labor movement in a broad range of capacities. She comes from a family steeped in Democratic politics. Her father, John Moran Bailey, was the dominant figure in Connecticut politics for over two decades. He served as head of the Connecticut Democratic Party as well as the Democratic National Committee during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations.
Mrs. Kennelly’s husband, James Kennelly, served in the Connecticut House for over a dozen years, including four as Speaker, and was known as a brilliant parliamentarian, an eloquent debater and a forceful advocate for his constituents in southwest Hartford. Mrs. Kennelly began her political career as her husband’s partner and chief facilitator, campaigning with him during each of his elections. She subsequently won election in her own right to the Hartford Court of Common Council and served as Secretary of the State of Connecticut prior to her election to the U.S. House.
Today, in addition to her lobbying activities, Mrs. Kennelly is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Trinity Washington University and is the President of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. She also serves on several boards, including the Social Security Advisory Board and the Board of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). As part of the IFES Board, she observed recent elections in Egypt and has traveled as part of Congressional outreach missions to countries all over the world.
Mrs. Kennelly received a bachelor’s in economics from Trinity College, Washington, D.C. and a master’s degree in government from Trinity College, Hartford. She earned a certificate from the Harvard Business School on completion of the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in business administration.