- Wife of U.S. Senator John Kerry
- Board member of the Heinz Family Philanthropies
- Has personally financed the Tides Foundation, which funds many leftwing organizations
Teresa Heinz Kerry is Board Chairwoman of the Heinz Family Foundation, Board Chairwoman of the Howard Heinz Endowment, and a Board member of the Vira I. Heinz Endowment. Collectively these are known as the Heinz Family Philanthropies, grant-making institutions that fund primarily leftwing causes. Teresa is the widow of Senator H. John Heinz III, and the current wife of Democratic Senator John Kerry.
She was born Maria Teresa Thierstein Simões-Ferreira in October 1938, to affluent parents of Portuguese descent in Maputo, Mozambique. While attending the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg during the late 1950s, she participated in protests against South Africa’s apartheid regime. She graduated in 1960 with a bachelor's degree in Romance Languages. In 1963 she relocated to the U.S., where she worked as an interpreter for the United Nations.
In 1966 Teresa married billionaire and future Republican politician Henry John Heinz III, heir of the Heinz family condiments company. In 1971, when her husband was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Mrs. Heinz became a naturalized citizen and a member of the Republican Party.
In April 1991, then-Senator Heinz died in a midair collision between his airplane and a helicopter; his wife inherited the Heinz family fortune.
Teresa Heinz had met the man who eventually would become her second husband, John Kerry, at an Earth Day event in 1990. They were reunited in 1992 during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The couple wed in May 1995. Teresa would remain a registered Republican until Senator Kerry’s presidential bid in 2004.
Through her various foundations, Mrs. Heinz Kerry has given millions of dollars to a host of far-left groups, with a special focus on environmentalist causes. Key recipients of her funding include the Tides Foundation; the Tides Center; the Environmental Defense Fund; Earth Action Network; Global Exchange; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Environmental Media Association; the Brookings Institution; the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund; the Earth Island Institute; Oxfam America; Physicians for Social Responsibility; the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; the Nature Conservancy; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; the Feminist Majority Foundation; the Union of Concerned Scientists; the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition; the Sierra Club; the Waterkeeper Alliance; ACORN; the National Urban League; and the Izaak Walton League of America.
Heinz Kerry has held high-profile positions with several leftwing organizations. She was: (a) an Advisory Board member of the Earth Communications Office, which creates public-service campaigns to “educate and inspire people around the world to take action to protect the planet”; (b) a Board member of Environmental Defense; (c) a Board of Trustees member with the Brookings Institution; and (d) a Board of Directors member with the Carnegie Corporation.
In 1993 Heinz Kerry, in tribute to her late husband, established the Heinz Award to “honor outstanding leaders in areas of great importance.” These areas, or categories, include: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology/Economy/Employment. Winners receive a cash prize of $250,000. Notable recipients have included the environmental activist Peggy Shepard, playwright August Wilson, and entertainer/political activist Bernice Johnson Reagon.
Heinz Kerry also established the “Teresa Heinz Scholars for Environmental Research” award, an annual prize that provides “support for individuals writing doctoral dissertations or a master's thesis, or for project enhancement, for research and solutions on emerging environmental issues.”
In addition, she helped create Second Nature, a nonprofit association whose mission is to “support the development of an environmentally literate citizenry.”
In March 2005, Teresa alleged that John Kerry had lost the U.S. presidential election four months earlier because many of the voting machines had been rigged. Because “two brothers own 80 percent of the machines used in the United States,” she said, it was “very easy to hack into the mother machines.”
In March 2008, Heinz Kerry authored a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed in which she affirmed her support for Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race against Republican candidate John McCain. In the piece, she drew a comparison between her late husband and Obama:
“I never cast a ballot until I became a citizen of the United States. But when I did, it was for a young man who spent years teaching me about the needs of Pennsylvania’s working families and the good our government can do for them – my late husband, Sen. John Heinz. He helped me learn how precious a right suffrage is – as a weapon against tyranny; as an instrument of hope, progress and change. That is why, this year, I will cast my vote ... for Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.... I am excited about a candidate who knows that we can safeguard our security and still preserve our civil liberties.”
She then proceeded to malign George W. Bush as a President "who twisted evidence and manipulated our fears to goad this nation into an unnecessary war," and Vice President Dick Cheney as someone "who seems never to have read the Constitution."
Four years earlier, Heinz Kerry had voiced support for John McCain, who, at the time, was rumored to be under consideration for selection as John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate. In a July 2004 interview with Larry King, the following exchange took place:
Heinz Kerry: I like John [McCain]. I like John. I've even voted for John in Pennsylvania when he ran the last time.
King: You were a Republican, then.
Heinz Kerry: Yes, I voted for John McCain.
King: Would you have supported a Kerry/McCain ticket?
Heinz Kerry: I think one can say yes or no...
King: Well, you would have supported it, naturally.
Heinz Kerry: Well, if he'd chosen him, for sure.
In the same interview, Heinz Kerry said: “I've always worked on bipartisans [sic], whether it's on healthcare, drug reform, et cetera. All my work is bipartisan ... nonpartisan actually, because I look for solutions. I'm very practical.”
Contradicting her claim of nonpartisanship, Heinz Kerry's political donations over the years have gone almost entirely to liberal and leftist Democrats. From 1979 to 2008, she made $144,472 in such contributions, of which $6,500 went to Republican candidates, $121,900 went to Democrat candidates, and $16,072 went to leftwing special interest groups such as the Committee for a Democratic Majority, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Campaign For Our Country (a John Kerry initiative “to help build and expand the Democratic Party nationally”). Notable individual recipients of Heinz Kerry’s donations included John Kerry, Tom Udall, Ted Kennedy, John Murtha, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama.
As the inheritor of the Heinz family fortune, Teresa Heinz Kerry is reportedly worth between $750 million and $1.2 billion. In 2004 she became the first spouse of a presidential or vice-presidential candidate not to publicly release her full tax returns. When she eventually did release two pages of her 2003 income tax form, it revealed that she had paid a smaller percentage of her income in taxes than most middle-class Americans.
Heinz Kerry has received twelve honorary doctoral degrees from colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. In 2003 she was awarded the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism. The New York Times has called her one of America's leading philanthropists, and Utne magazine named her as one of the top 100 American visionaries.