About the Institute

About our Educational Programs | About our Innovative Building Design

The Institute's Board of Directors | Staff Biographies

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (the EMK Institute) is dedicated to educating the public about our government, invigorating public discourse, encouraging participatory democracy, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the public square. The Institute will be a dynamic center of non-partisan learning and engagement that takes advantage of cutting-edge technology to provide each visitor and other participants with a unique and information rich, personalized experience that will bring challenging and fundamentally important historical and current debates to life.

The Institute intends to be one of the leading organizations working to turn the tide on civic education, providing a portal into the legislative process and a training ground for active, responsible participation in democracy, community and country.

Through innovative, participatory educational programs, the EMK Institute will engage the public in important debates, bringing them inside the legislative process. The EMK Institute will use many of the issues Senator Kennedy cared deeply about to focus attention on how the Senate shapes public policy and the nation. The Institute will be a dynamic laboratory for democracy. Our programs will serve the general public, students at all levels of their education, teachers, scholars, senators, senate staff, international visitors and others in public service.

The EMK Institute’s Columbia Point facility is a 68,000 square foot building located on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) and adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. This proximity will encourage visitors to explore both facilities. The two institutions will partner closely to build the Institute and a variety of programs. The Institute is also across the street from the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum which houses the Commonwealth’s original copy of the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence among many other relevant archival and educational resources. This too creates opportunities for collaboration and added value for visitors to Columbia Point.

The education, research and other programs offered by the EMK Institute will attract students, faculty and visitors to the UMass Boston campus and will complement those currently offered at the university.

The EMK Institute will house:

  • Ceremonial/reception/lobby space
  • Museum space for exhibits
  • A full-scale representation of the Senate chamber for forums and educational programs
  • Three classrooms for visiting groups and other training programs
  • Office space
  • Cafe offering a small daytime menu for visitors
  • Warming kitchen and staging capacity to host large catered dinner events
  • Conference facilities
  • Gift/Book Shop

 A distinguished board of advisors, scholars, teachers, practitioners and researchers will oversee, advise and guide the Institute's program development.

About our Educational Programs

The educational programs inside the building will breathe life into the Institute, making it a dynamic laboratory of democracy. Our programs will serve the general public, students at all levels of their education, teachers, new Senators, Senate staff, and others in public service.

To fulfill our educational mission, the EMK Institute will serve as a unique resource engaging visitors in every dimension of our participatory democracy.

The Institute will emphasize civic education, providing educational programs in history and public policy issues, current and past, as well as in-depth information about the Senate, its history, rules, customs and personalities. These programs will emphasize the value of critical skills such as teamwork, leadership, negotiation, compromise, debating, and persuasion.

A distinguished board of advisors, scholars, teachers, and researchers will oversee, advise and guide the Institute's program development.

  • For Students — Students will engage in immersive activities and experiential learning, drafting bills, debating historical and contemporary issues, and voting on legislation. Students will also view dramatic re-creations of significant moments in the U.S. Senate’s history, allowing them to gain insight into the struggles of the legislative process, and inspiring them to become active participants in public affairs. The Institute’s website will supply rich materials for students to prepare for their visit, and offer post-visit opportunities to stay engaged and continue learning.

    The Institute plans to host a Summer Senate program, where 100 students, two from each state, will come to the Institute to hold mock hearings and draft legislation.

    Offered in conjunction with UMass Boston and a consortium of other universities, the Institute’s college programs will emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to the study of government, drawing on faculty and guest speakers from such diverse fields as Political Science, Economics, International Relations, History, Law, and Urban Planning.

  • For Teachers — Teachers will work closely with the Institute to create courses and programs that add a new dimension to the study of history and government. Teacher-development programs, in conjunction with leading colleges and universities, will advance their abilities to teach civics, and also fulfill eligibility requirements for in-service or college credits.

  • For Government Officials — Programs designed specifically for public officials, incoming Senators, and their staff, will provide in-depth training sessions to prepare public servants to communicate effectively in Washington D.C., and with the citizens they serve.

  • For the General Public and Life-Long Learners — Programs for the general public will be designed to develop and support a well-informed electorate. These programs will enable participation on a local and national level, through seminars, lectures, and symposia.

    Programs for history enthusiasts and retired citizens will enrich the Institute experience by connecting generations of knowledge and public service.

  • Digital Library — The Edward M. Kennedy Institute will partner with the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and others, to digitize materials, and create a comprehensive digital library of US Senate archives and related materials. The Institute’s website will provide a public portal into this rich, interactive content, including historical documents, photographs, oral histories, film and more.

About our Innovative Building Design

Rafael Viñoly

The Institute's building was designed by world-renowned architect, Rafael Viñoly.

Rafael Viñoly has been practicing architecture for over forty-five years. As principal of Rafael Viñoly Architects, he has completed many critically and publicly praised buildings around the world. He is known as an architect of imagination and rigor with a proven capacity to create beloved civic, cultural and institutional spaces. Mr. Viñoly’s projects include the Tokyo International Forum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Abu Dhabi Campus for New York University.

The Institute is located on the UMass Boston Campus, adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The overall site plan has been designed to work in harmony with the UMass Boston campus, the JFK Library, and the Columbia Point waterfront. The facility has been designed and will be operated with sustainable practices, and is on track for LEED certification.

View the renderings »

The Institute's Board of Directors

Victoria Reggie Kennedy (Co-Founder and President of the Board)

A private sector attorney with extensive public service and political experience, Victoria Reggie Kennedy is the Co-Founder and President of the Board of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. Mrs. Kennedy is a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Commission on Political Reform and is a strong advocate for issues that improve the lives of families, especially women and children. She is a Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a member of the Board of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, a lay initiative to help Catholic Church institutions promote excellence and best practices in management, finances and human resource development. She is a member of the Board of Overseers at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and is on the Advisory Board of the global investment firm Houlihan Lokey.

A. Lee Fentress

Lee Fentress serves as the Chair of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute's Board of Directors and coordinated Senator Kennedy's Oral History Project with the University of Virginia's Miller Center. A Louisiana native who came to know Robert F. Kennedy while serving as an Assistant United States Attorney, Fentress served on the staff of RFK's historic 1968 Presidential campaign. Following Senator Robert F. Kennedy's death, Fentress and his law partners formed ProServ, which is often credited with pioneering the modern sports marketing and management industry and led to the creation of Octagon, a global leader in sports, music, and entertainment marketing that recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Nick Littlefield, Partner at Foley Hoag, LLP

From 1989 through 1997, Nick Littlefield served as Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where he worked under Senator Kennedy's direction to pass landmark legislation including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act, the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, the Family & Medical Leave Act, and the Safe Medical Devices Act. A partner at Foley Hoag, LLP, Nick has chaired the firm's Government Strategies Group since 1998, and has taught frequently at Harvard Law School, Northeastern University, and The Heller School for Social Policy and Management. From 1972 to 1976, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Ranny Cooper, President of Weber Shandwick Public Affairs

Ranny Cooper is President of Weber Shandwick's public affairs practice and oversees the firm's research and advocacy advertising divisions. Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, she served as Senator Edward M. Kennedy's Chief of Staff with responsibility for the Senator's legislative and political activities. A frequent speaker on political issues, Ranny is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Partnership for Women & Families, EMILY's List, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. She also serves as a member of the Board of Overseers of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was honored with the prestigious Women in Communications Matrix Award in 2000.

Barbara A. Souliotis, Former State Director, Office of The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy

The only staff person to work for Senator Edward M. Kennedy for the entirety of his nearly 47-year Senate career, Barbara Souliotis first began working with Senator Kennedy while he served in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in the early 1960's. For the last 23 years of Senator Kennedy's Senate service, Barbara ran his Boston office as Senator Kennedy's State Director, a role she would reprise for his successor, interim U.S. Senator Paul G. Kirk, Jr. Barbara currently serves on the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation's New Frontier Award Committee, and was honored with the 2003 Congressman John Joseph Moakley Exemplary Public Service Award.

The Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy, Co-Founder of One Mind for Research

After serving 16 years in the House of Representatives, Patrick Kennedy, the primary author and lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equality Act of 2008, co-founded One Mind for Research to lead and coordinate research, funding, marketing, and public awareness of mental illness and brain injury. As a Congressman, Kennedy authored and sponsored dozens of bills to improve the understanding and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act, the Genomics & Personalized Medicine Act, the COMBAT PTSD Act, and the Alzheimer's Treatment & Caregiver Support Act. While in Congress, Representative Kennedy also founded the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and the 21st Century Healthcare Caucus.

Dr. J. Keith Motley, Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Boston

Dr. J. Keith Motley is the 8th Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, an institution with nearly 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students, a faculty of more than 1,000, and a $323 million annual budget. With more than 20 years of experience in higher education administration, Dr. Motley is also a founder of the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, and the Paul Robeson Institute for Positive Self-Development. Dr. Motley serves on numerous boards of community organizations with local, regional, and national reach, and he holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Northeastern University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Boston College.

Dr. Robert L. Caret, President, University of Massachusetts

Robert L. Caret is the 26th President of the University of Massachusetts, a 70,000-student University system comprised of the flagship campus in Amherst, along with campuses in Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester. The first in his family to attend college, Caret earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry and he served as President of two universities prior to joining UMASS - Towson University in Maryland and San Jose State University in California, where he spearheaded a joint city/university project to build the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. A recognized leader in higher education policy, Dr. Caret serves on the boards of a wide range of higher education and community organizations.

Ralph Martin, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Northeastern University

A highly accomplished trial attorney and civic leader with more than 30 years of private and public sector experience, Ralph Martin currently serves as a Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Northeastern University. Martin made history while serving as the first African American District Attorney in Suffolk County, where his prosecutorial work won acclaim from former President Bill Clinton and former Attorney General Janet Reno. He is the previous chair of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on a number of boards, including the Board of Directors of Boston Children's Hospital and BlueCross and BlueShield of Massachusetts.

Stephanie Cutter, Partner, Precision Strategies and Co-host, CNN's Crossfire

Stephanie Cutter is a partner at Precision Strategies and the co-host of CNN's Crossfire. Previously, she was Deputy Campaign Manager for the 2012 Obama presidential campaign and an Assistant to the President and White House Deputy Senior Advisor, managing message strategy and issue development.  She also served as counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, handling the strategy behind the development and implementation of the Obama Administration's Financial Stability Plan.  Cutter also served in senior roles in the United States Senate, working as a senior advisor to both Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Edward M. Kennedy.  During the Clinton Administration, Cutter held a number of positions, including as White House Deputy Communications Director and an Associate Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, and Smith College, and serves on the board of Organizing for America and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. 

The Honorable Trent Lott, Former Republican Leader of the U.S. Senate

Senator Trent Lott represented the people of Mississippi in Congress for 35 years and is one of the very few elected officials in our nation's history to have held elected leadership posts in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. Lott served as the House Minority Whip, the 2nd ranking Republican in the House, from 1981 to 1989 and as Senate Majority Leader from 1996 to 2002. He was also elected by his colleagues to serve as Senate Republican Whip in 2006, and is the only person to have held that position in both the House and Senate. Senator Lott currently serves as Senior Counsel at Patton Boggs LLP. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and the author of Herding Cats: A Life in Politics.

The Honorable Thomas A. Daschle, Former Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate

An Air Force veteran and four-term Congressman from South Dakota, Tom Daschle won election to the Senate in 1986 and was elected Democratic Leader by his colleagues in 1996. Daschle held that leadership position for eight years, becoming the first Democrat to serve as both Majority Leader and Minority leader on two separate occasions. Currently a senior policy advisor at DLA Piper, Senator Daschle serves on the boards of the Center for American Progress and National Democratic Institute. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Health Policy and Management Council at the Harvard School of Public Health. In 2007 he joined former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Robert J. Dole, and George J. Mitchell to found the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Fred Seigel, President and Chief Operating Officer, Beacon Capital Partners

Mr. Seigel is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Beacon Capital Partners, a Boston-based private real estate investment firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, DC, London, Luxembourg, and Paris. Prior to joining Beacon Capital, Mr. Seigel served as Managing Director of Latona Associates, a private merchant bank, and as Founder, President & Director of Energy Capital Partners, which specialized in financing energy projects across the U.S. Mr. Seigel is member of The Real Estate Roundtable and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Greenprint Foundation and the Citi Performing Arts Center.

Louis B. Susman, Former United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James's

Louis B. Susman was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s on July 29, 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  He took up his duties in London on August 17, 2009 and retired on April 3, 2013.  A banker and a lawyer with extensive experience, Ambassador Susman was the Vice Chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking.  He is also a former member of the Citigroup International Advisory Board.  Prior to joining Salomon Brothers, Inc. in June 1989, Mr. Susman practiced law in the City of St. Louis for 27 years and was a senior partner at the St. Louis‑based law firm of Thompson & Mitchell.  Ambassador Susman is presently the Non-Executive Chairman of Edelman, Special Advisor to BDT Capital Partners and Special Advisor to Henry Crown & Co.  In addition, Ambassador Susman is a member of the Board of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate and a member of the Board of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

James J. Karam

James Karam is President and founder of First Bristol Corporation (www.firstbristol.com) and provides the leadership and direction of this 38-year-old New England Real Estate Development and Management Company. Founded in 1975, First Bristol’s focus has been the development of major retail shopping centers, first-class office buildings, and hotels throughout Southern New England. Mr. Karam’s commitment to excellence is evidenced by the broad scope of the company’s varied developments and his recognition for being in the forefront of this ever-changing industry. He also is co-owner of WSAR and WHTB radio stations, serving the Massachusetts Southcoast region. Mr. Karam’s current and past professional and civic affiliations are extensive, including as former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the largest New England community health care system, Caritas Christi Health Care System, 10 years as a Trustee and former Chair of the Board for the University of Massachusetts five (5) campus system, and currently as a Board member of the Boston-based Steward Health Care System.

Henry M. Thomas III, JD

Henry M. Thomas III, JD serves as President of the Urban League of Springfield, Inc. and has served for thirty-eight years as President and CEO. Mr. Thomas is past Vice President of the National Urban League, and former fire and police Commissioner for the City of Springfield. Mr. Thomas also serves as CEO for the historic Camp Atwater - the oldest African American owned and operated overnight youth camp in the United States (since 1921). On September 14, 2007, the Governor appointed Mr. Thomas to a five-year term on the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees and subsequently appointed him Chair of the Board on July 1, 2012.

Jack Connors, Jr. (Director Emeritus)

Jack Connors, Jr. is a founding partner and Chairman Emeritus of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc., a full-service marketing communications company. Under his leadership, Hill, Holliday evolved from a one-room shop in 1968 to one of the nation's top 20 advertising firms and counts some of the most well-known brands in the world, including Dunkin' Donuts, Bank of America, CVS/Pharmacy and Liberty Mutual, among its clients. A Trustee of Boston College, Mr. Connors is known for his extensive involvement in Boston's civic life and deep commitment to philanthropy, including his support of Camp Harbor View, The Campaign for Catholic Schools, and dozens of other charitable organizations. He served for 16 years as Chairman of the Partners HealthCare System Board and is on the Board of Fellows at Harvard Medical School.


Staff Biographies

Andrew Tarsy, President

Andy became President of the Institute in October of 2012. He is a proven chief executive, advocate and educator. 

Like many in Massachusetts, Andy’s career began with an internship in Senator Kennedy’s office in Washington. Later, he was a Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice and a lawyer in private practice. He then spent eight years with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as Eastern States Counsel and then Executive Director of the New England regional office. After leaving ADL, Andy was a senior executive with the international education organization Facing History and Ourselves, and a Visiting Professional at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Immediately prior to joining the Institute, Andy was a co-founder and President of the Alliance For Business Leadership, a network of CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs and investors interested in understanding and influencing public policy.

Andy has been appointed to public boards and commissions by both Democratic and Republican Governors in Massachusetts. He has also served as faculty advisor for high school debate and Model United Nations programs, and as an adjunct teacher in a charter high school.

Andy is a graduate of the Roxbury Latin School, Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, and George Washington Law School. 

Grace Moreno, Chief Operating Officer

Grace Moreno is a seasoned operations and organizational leader who has specialized in bringing efficiency and results-oriented planning to high-performance regional and national non-profit organizations. She was Vice President of Community Programs at The Community Builders, Inc. a national non-profit mixed income housing developer serving over 10,000 residents in 17 states. Previously, She was Deputy Director at Health Care for All, which focused on universal access to health care; and prior to that was Deputy Director at Oiste!, a Massachusetts Latino Organization focused on civic engagement. Earlier in her career, Grace was National Director of Operations at the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA). 

Grace received extensive training in organizational development and planning from the prestigious National Training Labs. She is a graduate of Rice University, with Bachelors degrees in political science and biology.

Nell Breyer, Director of Programming and Education

Nell’s research and professional work includes a focus on interactive design in public space, and on the impact of critical computing skills on children’s comprehension and learning. 

Before joining the Institute team, Nell was a consultant for Ignition Ventures, working on new venture creation and technology commercialization; and for Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where she was working on research initiatives to protect the digital public domain and enhance classroom learning with skills derived from strategic game play.

Nell was a Research Affiliate for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has served as a faculty member or guest lecturer at Harvard University, Tufts University, Massachusetts College of Art & Design, and Rhode Island School of Design. She received a Master’s Degree at the MIT Media Lab in 2002 and a doctorate from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in 2011.

Maureen Grieco, Vice President of Development

Maureen joined us in March 2014 as Vice President of Development.  She has an extensive background in higher education development as well as significant experience in political campaign fundraising.

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Maureen began volunteering for local political campaigns as a teenager.   She started her professional career in politics as a field organizer for the Clinton Gore Campaign in 1992.  This led to a long tenure as a campaign manager and fundraiser for state and federal candidates across the country.

Most recently, Maureen served as a philanthropic advisor in the Office of Philanthropic Partnerships at MIT where she engaged the Institute’s most generous benefactors.  Prior to MIT, Maureen was a major gifts officer at Yale School of Medicine.  She worked closely with Yale physicians to cultivate prospective grateful patients and medical school alumni.

Maureen is a graduate of Hood College. 

Virginia “Ginny” O’Sullivan, Chief of Staff

As Chief of Staff for the Institute, Ginny is a critical link on a growing team of professional staff, consultants and partners.

Ginny retired after a 30-year career with Verizon in 1997, and in 2001, she joined the UMassOnline team as the Business Manager at the University of Massachusetts President’s office.  Beginning in 2003 she worked with the President of the University of Massachusetts as Assistant Vice President for Administrative Services to the President. A key element of Ginny’s work in the UMass President’s office was to engage successfully with the many diverse communities within the complex multi-campus university. She came to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in 2011. Virginia holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Kelly Bovio, Associate Director of Program and Director of the Institute’s Biomedical Technology Innovation Program

Kelly Bovio is Associate Director of Program and Director of the Institute’s Biomedical Technology Innovation Program.

Kelly worked in Congress for 11 years. She worked for Senator John Kerry as Senior Legislative Assistant for Health Policy; and in legislative and policy roles in the offices of Senator Ernest Hollings and Congressman John Olver.

Her most recent position was Senior Policy Advisor for the Alliance for Business Leadership.  Prior to that she served as Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer at the Horizons for Homeless Children in Boston and was Director of a civic engagement program for high school students for the Annenberg Foundation in Denver, Colorado.

Kelly graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she was Phi Beta Kappa - and received her Masters Degree in International Relations from American University in Washington. 

Jim Shea, Curatorial Director

Jim is principally responsible for the preservation, curatorial direction and programming at the Kennedy family home in Hyannis Port which was gifted to the Institute in 2012; and for curating the expansive collection of artifacts that famously distinguished Senator Kennedy’s offices in Washington and Boston. 

For over thirty years Jim Shea worked for the National Park Service as a museum professional. His served as Chief Museum Curator at Colonial National Historic Park-Yorktown, VA, Cape Cod National Seashore and the New York City- Manhattan Sites. He most recently served as Museum Curator at the John F. Kennedy NHS in Brookline, MA and Site Manager and Chief of Cultural Resources at the Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters NHS in Cambridge, MA where he worked directly with Senator Kennedy to significantly advance preservation and education efforts at the historic property.

Jim has received numerous awards over his thirty year career including: City of Cambridge: Lifetime Achievement Preservation Award (2012) & Historic Preservation Award (2002); MIT-Cambridge, MA - History Preservation Award (2007); National Park Service- Northeast Region: Museum Curator of the Year Award (1990) and Cultural Resource Manager of the Year Award (1997). The James M. Shea Lecture Series fund was established in 2012 his honor.

Jim now sits on Boards and Committees with Historic New England, Massachusetts Historical Society, Victorian Society in America-New England Chapter and the Cambridge Forum.