BOSTON (AP) — John Kerry has been named the first recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.

The former Democratic presidential nominee, secretary of state and U.S. senator was honored Sunday at a dinner attended by Kennedy's widow.

Quoting her late husband, Victoria Reggie Kennedy says Kerry "understands that America's strength comes from the power of our ideas."

Kerry says the award is an honor "because of the vision and determination of Vicki and Ted's entire family who carry that commitment forward."

Former President Barack Obama said in a letter read at the event that Kerry made the U.S. more respected worldwide.

The institute educates students about the legislative process and encourages participatory democracy.

Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer in 2009.