Vanessa Kerry Is Determined to Transform Global Health
Vanessa Kerry was raised in Boston with a name synonymous with politics and public service. She’s the younger of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s two daughters, and is charting a path that is very much her own — one that combines her devotion to medicine with her family’s tradition of public service.
Kerry has degrees from Yale University, the London School of Economics, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Harvard Medical School. A mother to two young children, she still finds time to work overnight shifts in the critical care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Her true passion, though, is Seed Global Health, a public-private partnership she founded in 2012 that focuses on training health professionals in the developing world.
1. What was it like to grow up as the daughter of someone who was so much in the public eye?
My parents were divorced when I was little. When I was 7, my dad was elected to the United States Senate, so he would spend the weeks in Washington, D.C., and then come home every weekend.
I think because my parents were divorced, that my sister and I were allowed to have a somewhat more normal life than we otherwise would have. We grew up quietly in Boston with my mom during the week, and we did what every other kid did: We went to school, came home, did our homework, took out the trash.
So yes and no. Other kids would hear things at home about my dad and his job, and make assumptions. People always assumed we had a lot of money, but we actually didn’t. I worked every summer of my life, from high school onward. We knew we were privileged to have certain experiences, but there were a lot of assumptions made about us that were hard to overcome, especially as a kid.
We were made aware, though, that we had opportunities that maybe other people didn’t and that it didn’t make us any more special, but it did give us a responsibility to use those experiences and opportunities wisely. And that was a lesson that was carried throughout the house growing up.
- Health Care