The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly
“And I campaigned, I campaigned very hard. I left my son at home when he was a little boy in grammar school in the sixth grade to come to Congress and I wanted to make it worth it. Two of my girls were in high school, one was just beginning her freshman year in college, and I wasn’t going to be down here doing nothing. This was a big deal to leave home. And so I fought very hard to get on that committee [Ways and Means]. There were three openings. So, it really was a race. And you went at it, and at it, and at it. I won the first spot.”
—The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly, September 9, 2015
U.S. Representative from Connecticut (January 12, 1982-January 3, 1999)
With deep political family roots, and time on the Hartford court of common council and as Connecticut secretary of state, Barbara Bailey Kennelly came to the House in 1982 with invaluable experience and a keen knowledge of public office. Kennelly used her political connections and golf—a tool typically reserved for male Members—to stay abreast of policy issues and to earn the respect of her colleagues. In her interview, she describes her hard-fought battle for a seat on the influential Ways and Means Committee. She also talks about her leadership aspirations and ascension as the then highest-ranking-woman in the Democratic Party when she won the vice chairmanship of the Democratic Caucus for the 105th Congress (1997–1999).
Determined to stretch the boundaries for women in Congress, Kennelly aimed her sights at the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rebuffed once, but not deterred, she eventually made history as the first woman named to the Intelligence Committee. Kennelly speaks of the connection among women Members, including her memories of how she and her female colleagues rallied around Anita Hill during the Senate confirmation hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kennelly’s political experience, knowledge of the institution, and willingness to work within the system to achieve her personal and political goals defined her House service and catapulted her into the highest echelon of the Democratic Leadership.
KENNELLY, Barbara Bailey, a Representative from Connecticut; born Barbara Ann Bailey, in Hartford, Conn., July 10, 1936; attended St. Joseph Cathedral School; graduated from Mount St. Joseph Academy, West Hartford, 1954; B.A., Trinity College, Washington, D.C., 1958; certificate in business administration, Harvard Business School, 1959; M.A., Trinity College, Hartford, Conn., 1971; member, Hartford Court of Common Council, 1975–1979; secretary of state of Connecticut, 1979–1982; elected as a Democrat to the Ninety–seventh Congress, by special election, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of United States Representative William R. Cotter, and reelected to the eight succeeding Congresses (January 12, 1982–January 3, 1999); was not a candidate in 1998 for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives but was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Connecticut.
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The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly describes growing up in a political household.
Congresswoman Ella Grasso
The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly shares memories of Representative Ella Grasso of Connecticut.
Running for the Ways and Means Committee
The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly explains the challenges she faced to get a seat on the Ways and Means Committee.
Women and the Ways and Means Committee
The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly describes the assumptions surrounding women on the Ways and Means Committee.
Chairman Rostenkowski's Leadership Style
The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly shares memories of Representative Daniel Rostenkowski of Illinois.
"The Guys Didn't Intimidate Me"
The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly recalls some of the obstacles she faced in her early years on the Ways and Means Committee.
Accepted by Ways and Means
The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly remembers building relationships with Members on the Ways and Means Committee.
The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly recalls playing golf in China on a congressional delegation.
The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly discusses the unique perspectives women bring to Congress.
Whipping the House
The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly describes how to be an effective whip.
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