Jean Ann Kennedy Smith (born February 20, 1928)
Jean is an American diplomat and a former United States Ambassador to Ireland. She is the eighth of nine children born to Joseph Patrick “Joe” Kennedy, Sr., and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald and is their last surviving child. She is a sister of the 35th U.S. President, John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy, Senators Robert Francis “Bobby” and Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy and Special Olympics founder Eunice Mary Kennedy.
Jean is the founder of Very Special Arts (VSA), an internationally recognized non-profit dedicated to creating a society where those with disabilities can engage with the arts. In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama for her work with VSA and the disabled.
As Ambassador to Ireland from 1993-1998, Jean was instrumental to the Northern Ireland peace process as President Bill Clinton’s representative in Dublin. She successfully advocated for the U.S. government to grant a visa to Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams which directly led to the IRA declaring a ceasefire in 1994. Irish President Mary McAleese conferred honorary Irish citizenship on Smith in 1998 in recognition of her service to the island.
Jean was a guest of honour at the official opening ceremony of the Kennedy Homestead Visitor Centre in June 2013.