The son of an ironworker and a home economics teacher, Tim Kaine has served as the junior U.S. Senator from Virginia since 2013. He was first elected to office in the 90s, serving as a city councilmember and then Mayor of Richmond, Virginia. A member of the Democratic Party, Kaine became Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2002 and four years later was inaugurated as Virginia’s 70th Governor. Kaine, who is a lawyer by trade, later took a big step into the national spotlight in 2016. That was when he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for VP of the U.S. alongside presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Today, Kaine serves on several Senate committees, including Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Health, Education, Labor, Pensions, and Budget. He also made the history books in 2013, delivering a nearly 13-minute speech entirely in Spanish. It was the first time that a senator gave a full speech on the floor of the Senate in a language other than English.
Kaine entered Harvard Law School in 1979, showing an early proclivity for public service. After completing his first year in Cambridge, he left school and traveled to Honduras, where he helped run a Roman Catholic school with Jesuit missionaries. He also taught Hondurans carpentry and welding, while gaining fluency in Spanish. After nine months, Kaine returned to Harvard Law and joined the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project to provide pro bono assistance for inmates. His efforts with the prison project included opposing the reinstatement of capital punishment in Massachusetts and organizing a program at Harvard Law petitioning summer associates to donate part of their salaries to law students working for nonprofits. Kaine graduated from Harvard Law with a Juris Doctor in 1983.
Since graduation, Kaine has participated actively in the life of Harvard Law School, whether he's been needed to host reunion celebrations in Virginia or act as a panelist at various Harvard Law events. In 2020, for example, Kaine was the main speaker at a seminar titled "Strengthening American National Security and Diplomacy: A Conversation with Senator Tim Kaine." Before that, he returned in 2011 to speak to the Harvard community about the Democratic Party’s achievements in the previous 2010 midterms; and in 2012, he returned to campus to advise students on “How to Make a Lasting Public Interest Career Part of a Happy Life.” In 2017, Kaine was surrounded by thousands of Harvard alumni and students to celebrate the Law School's Bicentennial. “I had a lot of classes from super brainy theoreticians..." Kaine said. “When I think of Harvard, I think ‘what a great trade school.’ You guys gave me some really practical things that I was able to turn into this cool civil rights and public service career.”