Who is Nicole Shanahan, RFK Jr.’s running mate?

Nicole Shanahan attends Gold House's Inaugural Gold Gala on May 21, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Credit: Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for Gold House)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s vice president pick is in: Nicole Shanahan – a California-based lawyer and investor who was once married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin. 

The announcement is no surprise to some, as she was notably among the top picks to be Kennedy’s running mate on his independent presidential ticket. Last week, the media website Mediaaite also reported that Kennedy planned to name Shanahan as her running mate, fueling further speculation.

However, some were still eyeing NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, lawyer Tricia Lindsay, or former Gov. of Minnesota Jesse Ventura – also reportedly among Kennedy’s shortlist. 

Here’s a closer look at Nicole Shanahan, officially RFK Jr.’s running mate. 

Who is Nicole Shanahan?

Shanahan is a Northern California attorney and the founder and president of Bia-Echo Foundation, a private foundation that "aims to invest in changemakers at the forefront of innovation" who are tackling challenges, including reproductive longevity and equality, criminal justice reform, and a healthy & livable planet. 

On Tuesday, Shanahan talked about her hardscrabble upbringing in Oakland, the daughter of a mother who immigrated from China and an Irish and German-American father "plagued by substance abuse" who "struggled to keep a job." Touching on her family's reliance on government assistance, Shanahan said that, although she had become "very wealthy later on in life," she felt she could relate to Americans being "just one misfortune away from disaster."

"The purpose of wealth is to help those in need. That's what it's for," Shanahan said. "And I want to bring that back to politics, too. That is the purpose of privilege."


Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (R) and his vice presidential pick Nicole Shanahan (L) greets supporters during a campaign event to announce his pick for running mate at the Henry J. Kaiser Event Center on March 26, 2024 in O

Before the announcement, Kennedy's campaign manager and daughter-in-law, Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, praised Shanahan's work on behalf of "honest governance, racial equity, regenerative agriculture and children’s and maternal health." She said the work "reflects many of our country’s most urgent needs."

The 38-year-old also helped create Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s $5 million Super Bowl campaign commercial. Shanahan told USA TODAY that she helped choose the look and music for the 30-second spot, inspired by an ad from his uncle John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign. Kennedy is the son of Robert F. Kennedy who served as attorney general in his brother's administration.

RELATED: Robert Kennedy ad plays during the Super Bowl, uses JFK jingle

Kennedy family members Bobby Shriver and former Maryland lawmaker and Shriver’s brother Mark Shriver criticized the new commercial. RFK Jr. later apologized to his family for the Super ad, but posted it on his X, formerly Twitter, page. 

Before shifting focus to philanthropic efforts, Shanahan also founded ClearAccessIP,  an integrated patent management company using artificial intelligence to help its creators and owners develop, manage and transact patent-protected technology. 

Shanahan received her bachelor's degree at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, studying Asian Studies, Economics and Mandarin Chinese. She later got her J.D. at Santa Clara University School of Law, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She is also an academic fellow of CodeX, the Stanford Center of Legal Informatics, a joint center between Stanford Law School and Computer Science. 

Shanahan's support for RFK Jr.

Shanahan told USA TODAY last month that she gave Kennedy's campaign $6,600 when he was running in the Democratic primary last fall and was "upset" when he left the party to run for president as an independent.

But in recent months, she said, she had moved back into the Kennedy fold and had discovered "pockets of silent support all over the place," according to the New York Times.

Shanahan said, "I had a change of heart as I was listening to people and watching his campaign and seeing the polls ‒ those were the three things that were viable to me that this is an interesting campaign."

As a candidate for vice president, Shanahan can give unlimited sums to the campaign directly. That's potentially a huge boost for Kennedy's expensive push to get on the ballot in all 50 states, an endeavor he has said will cost $15 million and require collecting more than 1 million signatures.

She’s a mom, ex-wife of Google co-founder

Shanahan and Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, were married for over three years before their divorce was announced in 2022.

The two first started dating in 2015, the same year Brin finalized his divorce from his first wife Anne Wojcicki, and eventually tied the knot in 2018, as reported by Business Insider

The couple welcomed a daughter later that year. When they married, she also became a stepmom to his son Benji and daughter Chloe from his previous marriage to Wojcicki.

RFK Jr. announces run as independent

Kennedy, a longtime environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist, announced in October that he would run for president as an independent and drop his Democratic primary bid. 

EARLIER: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to run for president as independent and drop his Democratic primary bid

Kennedy, a member of one of the most famous Democratic families in politics, was running a long-shot primary bid and had better favorability ratings among Republicans than Democrats. 

Biden's allies so far have dismissed Kennedy’s primary campaign as unserious. When the Associated Press asked for comment on his potential independent run, a Democratic National Committee spokesman responded with an eye roll emoji.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.