Kerry Kennedy is the president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. For more than thirty years, Ms. Kennedy has devoted herself to the pursuit of equal justice, the promotion and protection of basic rights, and the preservation of the rule of law. She has worked on a range of issues, including children’s rights, child labor, disappearances, indigenous land rights, judicial independence, freedom of expression, ethnic violence, impunity, and the environment. She has concentrated specifically on women’s rights, exposing injustices and educating audiences about women’s issues, particularly honor killings, sexual slavery, domestic violence, workplace discrimination, sexual assault, abuse of prisoners, and more. She has led hundreds of human rights delegations. At a time of diminished idealism and growing cynicism about public service, her life and lectures are testaments to the commitment to the basic values of human rights.
Under Ms. Kennedy’s leadership, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights partners with the bravest people on Earth to create lasting change. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights supports defenders in the field with advocacy, litigation, and training; brings human rights to students in the classroom with its innovative Speak Truth To Power curriculum; and engages the financial community about sustainable investing and the intersection between business and human rights.
She is the author of Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World, which features interviews with human rights activists including Marian Wright Edelman, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and New York Times Best Seller Being Catholic Now. She appears regularly on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and PBS as well as on networks in countries around the world, and her commentaries and articles have been published in The Boston Globe, The Chicago Sun-Times, L’Unita, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, Marie Claire, The New York Times, El Pais, and the Yale Journal of International Law, among others.
Ms. Kennedy served as Chair of the Amnesty International USA Leadership Council for over a decade. Nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate, she serves on the board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace, Human Rights First, HealthEVillages and Inter- Press Service (Rome, Italy). She is a patron of the Bloody Sunday Trust (Northern Ireland) and serves on the Editorial Board of Advisors of the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review. She is on the Advisory Committee for the association of American Indian Affairs; International Campaign for Tibet, the Global Youth Action Network, and several other organizations. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Albert Schweitzer Institute.
Ms. Kennedy received high honors from President Lech Walesa of Poland for aiding the Solidarity movement. She has received awards from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the American Jewish Congress of the Metropolitan Region, the Emerald Isle Immigration Society, and the New York City Council. She was named Woman of the Year 2001 by Save the Children, received the Crossing Borders Award from the Feminist press in 2003, Humanitarian of the Year Award from the South Asian Media Awards Foundation, the Prima Donna Award from Montalcino Vineyards, and other awards and honors in 2008 she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Medal of Honor and the Thomas More Award from Boston College Law School. World Vision and International AIDS Trust gave her the 2009 Human Rights Award. She has also received awards from NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Teachers Association. In 2013 she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from the Unitarian Universalists.
Ms. Kennedy has served in numerous political campaigns, and she is a member of the Massachusetts and District of Columbia bars. She is a graduate of Brown University and Boston College Law School, and she holds honorary doctorates of law from Le Moyne College, University of San Francisco Law School, and University of New Caledonia, and honorary doctorates of Humane Letters from Bay Path College and the Albany College of Pharmacy.
Ms. Kennedy is the mother of three daughters, Cara, Mariah, and Michaela.