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Elizabeth Edwards, a political advocate and the wife of former North Carolina senator and presidential aspirant John Edwards, will be one of three additional spring visiting fellows, officials at the Institute of Politics (IOP), officials at the IOP announced yesterday.
The two other fellows are Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former president of Latvia, and Andrew White, head of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.
Edwards, an attorney, took on a high-profile role in her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign, calling for more attention to be paid to children’s issues and for Americans to engage in public service.
“I can’t think anyone who better embodies the spirit of public service and selflessness in service to the nation than she does,” said Jarret A. Zafran ’09, president of the Harvard College Democrats, who plan on having breakfast with Edwards.
Edwards, who suffers from breast cancer, will have a packed schedule while she is on campus from April 8 to 10, holding a public address at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum in addition to meeting with students.
IOP Director Jim Leach said he was at first worried that Edwards would be too busy.
“Her response was ‘I can do more,’” Leach said.
Markus R.T. Kolic ’09, former chair of the Harvard Students for Edwards, said he hopes that Elizabeth will continue to be critical of Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s health care policy. Edwards has said that neither she nor McCain, who was treated for melanoma, would be covered under his proposed health insurance plan.
“She’s been excellent for the Democratic Party on health care,” Kolic said. “She does not pull her punches.”
The Edwards family already has some ties to Harvard: Their older daughter, Cate, is a second-year student at Harvard Law School.
The other fellows’ arrival marks continued efforts by the IOP to expand its international focus.
The first woman to serve as president of Latvia, Vike-Freiberga helped her country gain membership to North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union during her two terms from 1999 to 2007.
“She is generally an emblem of gender equality,” said Woodbridge Society liaison Alexandre J. Terrien ’11. “She is very important in female politics.” Vike-Freiberga will meet with multiple student groups, in particular the Woodbridge Society, Terrien said.
White is head of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, a non-profit organization that works with religious and political leaders and provides humanitarian relief to impoverished areas in the Middle East.
In addition, White is vicar of St. George’s Church in Baghdad, the only Anglican church in Iraq. Calling White “a real hero,” Leach said White will bring an interesting perspective on the Iraq war.
White’s fellowship schedule was delayed because he had to negotiate with radicals after one of his bodyguards was kidnapped in Baghdad, Leach said.
—Staff writer Chelsea L. Shover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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