Gabriela Pereira Interviews Grace Kennan Warnecke on the DIY MFA Podcast Episode 207
Owning Your Story — Interview with Grace Kennan Warnecke
This podcast originally appears on Diymfa.com July 4, 2018 Duration: 45 min.
Grace Kennan Warnecke’s memoir is about a life lived on the edge of history. Daughter of one of the most influential diplomats of the twentieth century, wife of the scion of a newspaper dynasty and mother of the youngest owner of a major league baseball team, Grace eventually found her way out from under the shadows of others to forge a dynamic career of her own.
Born in Latvia, Grace lived in seven countries and spoke five languages before the age of eleven. As a child, she witnessed Hitler’s march into Prague, attended a Soviet school during World War II, and sailed the seas with her father. In a multi-faceted career, she worked as a professional photographer, television producer, and book editor and critic. Eventually, like her father, she became a Russian specialist, but of a very different kind. She accompanied Ted Kennedy and his family to Russia, escorted Joan Baez to Moscow to meet with dissident Andrei Sakharov, and hosted Josef Stalin’s daughter on the family farm after Svetlana defected to the United States. While running her own consulting company in Russia, she witnessed the breakup of the Soviet Union, and later became director of a women’s economic empowerment project in a newly independent Ukraine.
Daughter of the Cold War is a tale of all these adventures and so much more. This compelling and evocative memoir allows readers to follow Grace’s amazing path through life – a whirlwind journey of survival, risk, and self-discovery through a kaleidoscope of many countries, historic events, and fascinating people.
Grace Kennan Warnecke’s memoir, Daughter of the Cold War describes her unique and extraordinary upbringing as the daughter of famed U.S. diplomat George Kennan. Grace’s life has been an incredible and at times difficult and dangerous journey through history. Her father became the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and was the architect of the U.S. policy on containment of Russian expansion during the Cold War. Born in Latvia, Grace lived in seven countries and spoke five languages before the age of twelve. As a child, she witnessed Hitler’s march into Prague, and attended public school in Moscow during World War II.
Grace forged her own brand of citizen diplomacy at a time when few women held prominent positions with the U.S. Foreign Service. Grace ultimately became a Russia specialist proving that when governments fail to communicate, it’s up to their citizens to keep talking.
Grace escorted Joan Baez to Moscow to meet with dissident Andrei Sakharov, served as Ted Kennedy’s interpreter when the Senator travelled to Russia to meet with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, and harbored Josef Stalin’s daughter on the Kennan family farm in East Berlin, Pennsylvania after Svetlana defected to the United States.
While running her own consulting company SOVUS in Russia, Grace witnessed first-hand the breakup of the Soviet Union. She had a face-to-face business meeting with a young Vladimir Putin. Grace’s accomplishments include becoming director of a women’s economic empowerment project that created women-run small businesses in a newly independent Ukraine.
Ms. Warnecke was founding executive director of the American-Soviet Youth Orchestra and associate producer of the prize-winning PBS documentary The First Fifty Years: Reflections on U.S.-Soviet Relations. As a professional photographer she was senior editor of A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union. She has served as an election observer in Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Grace is chairman of the board of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. She is a former fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a member of the advisory council of the Kennan Institute.
She lives in New York and Martha’s Vineyard.