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

Shanahan, a tech entrepreneur, earned a law degree from Stanford in California.

March 26, 2024, 3:35 PM

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has named Nicole Shanahan as his running mate.

Shanahan is a 38-year-old lawyer and tech entrepreneur in the Bay Area.

A career focused on public health

Shanahan, who earned a law degree from Stanford in California, has helped found multiple organizations focused on the health of humans and the planet -- a focus that first drew her to Kennedy last year.

"A lot of the work I do with my foundation [Bia-Echo] and my venture fund is around human and planetary health," she recently told ABC News. "If you look at our portfolio, it's kind of all like, how do we fund women's healthy fertility? How do we not just go to these maximalist public health policies that really forget the importance of the individual? So, personalized medicine requires us to understand the nuances of how each individual reacts in its environment."

"And I think that no candidate has talked about that more than RFK has," she said. 

Shanahan married Google co-founder Sergey Brin in 2018. They divorced last summer.

PHOTO: Nicole Shanahan, President of Bia-Echo Foundation, attends Gold House's Inaugural Gold Gala: A New Gold Age at Vibiana, May 21, 2022, in Los Angeles.
Nicole Shanahan, President of Bia-Echo Foundation, attends Gold House's Inaugural Gold Gala: A New Gold Age at Vibiana, May 21, 2022, in Los Angeles.
Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for Gold House, FILE

A 'lifelong Democrat' 

Shanahan told ABC she considers herself a "lifelong Democrat" who was initially disappointed when Kennedy removed himself from the party's primary last fall to run as an independent.

"I don't [know] how to support an independent candidate. I've never done it," she recalled thinking.

She said she was "concerned for the [Democratic National Committee]," claiming the group has not "been doing a good job" of "fostering their core values" but added she hopes the organization "can turn it around."

Shanahan is considering donating to down-ballot Democrats this cycle, she said, singling out Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood and California Rep. Ro Khanna.

She funded the pro-RFK Jr. Super Bowl ad

Shanahan bankrolled more than half of the $7 million used to create the ad that ran during this year's Super Bowl -- and angered several members of the Kennedy family, she told ABC News.

She said she did so to help prove whether "the campaign was unviable" or "the opposite, that it is very viable."

"I think there was a significant shift [in support for Kennedy's campaign] after" the Super Bowl, she said.

Predicted a Kennedy VP would come from someone with a background in health

In her conversation with ABC News, which took place before any running mate contenders had been reported, Shanahan said she had "no idea" who Kennedy might pick.

"I trust his instinct," she said. "I know he cares deeply about health and physically healing people through good public policies. And so, I believe that whoever he picks for VP will come from that background, is my guess."

Kennedy: Would 'absolutely' consider Shanahan if she weren’t wealthy

Kennedy's consideration of Shanahan as his running mate prompted speculation that he simply wanted to tap her financial resources to help him cover the high cost of ballot access in each state.

In a March 18 interview with NewsNation's Chris Cuomo, Kennedy rejected the premise, saying: "I would never choose a vice presidential candidate based on how much money that they have."