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Jean Kennedy Smith

February 20, 1938 – June 17, 2020

Jean Kennedy Smith was an American diplomat, activist, humanitarian, and author who served as United States Ambassador to Ireland from 1993 to 1998. She was a member of the Kennedy family.

Smith was the founder of Very Special Arts (VSA), an internationally recognized non-profit dedicated to creating a society where people with disabilities can engage with the arts. In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, by President Barack Obama for her work with VSA and with people with disabilities.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Smith the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. As Ambassador, Smith was reportedly instrumental in the Northern Ireland peace process as President Bill Clinton’s representative in Dublin. President of Ireland Mary McAleese conferred honorary Irish citizenship on Smith in 1998 in recognition of her service to the country.

"I never sat down and said, 'Now I must make a contribution, that one person can make a difference.' But I felt I was in a position where I could contribute. I never thought of it in the light of history or my brothers. I just felt I had an obligation." - Jean Kennedy Smith

Submitted by our members in 2020.