Barbara Bailey Kennelly ’58

Former Congresswoman - U.S. House of Representatives

The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly ’58 has dedicated her career to public service, serving as a Congresswoman in the U.S. House of Representatives for eight terms, representing Connecticut’s first district. She graduated from Trinity in 1958 and welcomed then-U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy to campus to give the Commencement address. She earned a certificate from the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration in 1959 and earned a master’s degree from Trinity College in Connecticut in 1971.

In 1975, Kennelly was elected to the Hartford Court of Common Council, a position she held until 1979. She served as the Secretary of the State of Connecticut from 1979 until 1982.

Barbara Kennelly was first elected to Congress in a special election to fill a vacancy. She represented Connecticut’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for eight terms, from 1982 to 1999. During the 98th Congress, she  was appointed to the Ways and Means Committee. She served on the Subcommittees on Human Resources and Select Revenue Measures. Beginning in 1987, she served on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence – the first woman to be appointed to this prestigious committee. During the 103rd Congress, Kennelly became Vice-Chair of the Democratic Caucus. She welcomed Trinity graduate Nancy Pelosi to Congress when she was first elected to Congress in 1987; at the time, Trinity was the first and only higher educational institution with two women among its graduates serving in Congress. Nancy Pelosi is currently Speaker of the House and second in line to the President of the United States.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed Kennelly to serve as Associate commissioner and counselor to the commissioner at the Social Security Administration. She later worked at the law firm Baker & Hostetler. From 2002 to 2011, she served as president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. In 2006, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi appointed her to the Social Security Advisory Board. In 2011, Kennelly returned to Trinity as a distinguished professor of political science.

Kennelly served as a member of the board of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a nonprofit that provides assistance with elections in many countries and president of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. The Barbara B. Kennelly Post Office Building in Hartford is named in her honor.