Cohen, who serves as senior adviser to the CEO at Comcast, was one of the president’s earliest financial supporters and hosted Biden’s first official 2020 presidential fundraising event. Cohen also worked as a partner at Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll and served as chief of staff to then-Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, a longtime Biden ally. The Washington Post previously reported that Cohen was likely to be nominated for the top envoy to Canada.
Kennedy is senior counsel in the corporate and securities practice group at Greenberg Traurig and president of the board and co-founder of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. She is also active in efforts to prevent gun violence and founded Common Sense About Kids and Guns, an advocacy group aimed at reducing gun deaths and injuries to children.
“I am honored to be nominated for this important position, and am deeply grateful to President Biden for this opportunity,” Kennedy said in a statement. “My parents and grandparents taught us through the example of their own lives how important it is to serve and give back. And my late husband, and his extended family, embodied the noblest qualities of service to country.”
Biden and Ted Kennedy were close friends from serving more than 30 years in the Senate together, and the president has credited Kennedy as a mentor who shaped his political career.
“He helped me win my first Senate campaign as a 29-year-old kid,” Biden wrote about Kennedy in the Boston Globe in 2015 ahead of the opening of the Kennedy Institute. “He picked me up in my darkest days after the fatal accident which took my wife and daughter. He was there for me years later and visited me at my home in Wilmington, as I recovered from surgery for an aneurysm. And as we worked together through the years for a more just and fair America, Teddy was always there.”
Harpootlian works as counsel at her husband’s law firm after previously serving as a court-appointed special master to work on mass disaster class-action cases. She previously spent 17 years as a career judicial law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans.
Harpootlian’s husband is a Democratic state senator in South Carolina and former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He was an early and vocal supporter of Biden’s presidential bid but sometimes found himself at the center of controversy, including for remarks he made suggesting that Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer was buying support from Black officials. Steyer called on Biden to disavow Dick Harpootlian’s support during a Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire.
The president has continued the tradition of rewarding longtime friends and donors with foreign postings, even as the White House has vowed to nominate a more diverse group of people and have a higher percentage of career Foreign Service officers serve as ambassadors than in previous administrations.