Childhood & Early Life
Kerry Kennedy was born Mary Kerry Kennedy, on September 8, 1959, in Washington, D.C., U.S. She is the seventh of the 11 children of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel. She is the younger sister of environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
She was a couple of days old when her father stepped down from the post of chief counsel of the Senate 'Rackets Committee.' He then assisted his brother, John F. Kennedy, in his presidential campaign. Hence, Kennedy spent her childhood in her family estate, 'Hickory Hill,' in Mclean, Virginia. Her uncle, John F. Kennedy, became the president in 1960, while her father was appointed the attorney general.
She made a short appearance in the 1963 documentary 'Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment.'
Her father resigned after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963. He won his run for the ‘New York State Senate’ and was a presidential nominee in 1968. He won the California ‘Democratic’ primary but was assassinated on June 6, 1968.
Kennedy and her family then moved back to New York.
After attending 'The Putney School,' she graduated from 'Brown University.' Kennedy holds a Juris Doctor from the 'Boston College Law School.'
She won a fellowship for the ‘Chesterfield Writer's Film Project.’
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Kennedy began working as a human-rights activist in 1981. She interned with 'Amnesty International.' She also traveled to El Salvador, where she investigated the conditions of the Salvadoran Civil War refugees and learned how the U.S. immigration officials oppressed them.
In 1986, Kennedy founded the 'RFK Center Partners for Human Rights' to protect the rights listed by the 'U.N. Declaration of Human Rights' and to support human-rights activists working globally.
In 1988, Kennedy became the president of the 'Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights,' which was later renamed the 'Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.' She also became the honorary president of the 'Robert F. Kennedy Foundation of Europe' in Italy. She served as the executive director of the 'Robert F. Kennedy Memorial' until 1995.
Kennedy is a prolific author and editor. She edited the book titled 'Being Catholic Now, Prominent Americans Talk about Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning,' which was published in September 2008. Additionally, she has written columns, articles, and commentaries for 'The Chicago Sun-Times,' 'The Boston Globe,' 'The New York Times,' 'L'Unita,' 'The Los Angeles Times,' 'Marie Claire,' 'Página/12,' 'TV Guide,' and the 'Yale Journal of International Law.'
Kennedy has been featured on several talk shows on ‘ABC,’ ‘NBC,’ ‘CBS,’ ‘CNN,’ and ‘PBS.’ She has interviewed several human-rights activists for the multimedia agency 'Voice of America.'
Kennedy is a prominent environmentalist, too. She contributed to the case against the multinational energy corporate giant 'Chevron Corporation.' In 2009, she criticized the organization for harming the environment and human health due to its operations at the Lago Agrio oil field in Ecuador.
She has served as a special correspondent for the environmental TV show 'Network Earth.'
She has worked to introduce bail reforms and support several bail-funding communities such as 'The Bronx Defenders.' She supported the provision of bail funds to minor pre-trial prisoners at the Rikers Island detention center.
With the help of Kennedy, the 'New York State Assembly' passed the “Kalief's Law” on June 9, 2016. The law ensured fast-track trials to defendants.
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One of her significant cases related to the provision of bail funds to minor pre-trial prisoners at the Rikers Island facility was that of Pedro Hernandez. He had been held in the detention center for over a year. Eventually, the 'Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights' paid for his bail on June 21, 2017.
Kennedy authored the book titled 'Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope,' which was published in 2018. The book chronicled how her father had influenced and impacted her life. She featured several prominent human-rights activists around the world in her book 'Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World.' The book has been translated into six languages to date and has also been adapted into a play.
'Speak Truth to Power' led to the foundation of the 'Speak Truth to Power' program launched by the 'RFK Center.' The program is an excellent initiative to educate the youth about their rights and assist them in achieving their respective goals.
In an attempt to reunite illegal immigrants in the U.S. with their families, Kennedy collaborated with the 'Texas Civil Rights Project,' the 'Dolores Huerta Foundation,' and the 'La Union Del Pueblo Entero,' to start the 'Break Bread Not Families Immigration Fast and Prayer Chain' on June 21, 2018. The team focused on overturning Trump's ''zero-tolerance'' policy and raising funds to support their motive.
In 2019, Kennedy supported the 'Farm Workers Bill' that her former husband, Andrew Cuomo, had passed as a law.
Kennedy has chaired the ‘Amnesty International Leadership Council,' battling violence against women.
Kennedy is a member of the advisory boards of several organizations, such as the 'International Campaign for Tibet,' the 'Committee on the Administration of Justice of Northern Ireland,' 'Studies without Borders,' the 'Global Youth Action Network,' and the 'Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment' (at 'Columbia University’).
She is on the board of directors of the 'United States Institute of Peace,' 'Human Rights First,' and the global news agency 'Inter Press Service' in Italy.
She is one of the sponsors of the 'Bloody Sunday Trust' in Northern Ireland. She serves the advisory committees of organizations such as the 'Albert Schweitzer Institute.' She is also part of the ‘National Advisory Council’ of the 'National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.'
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She is a member of the editorial board of advisors of the 'Buffalo Human Rights Law Review' and the Massachusetts and District of Columbia bar associations.
Awards & Honors
'Save the Children' named Kennedy the ''Woman of the Year'' in 2001. She has received the 'Humanitarian of the Year Award' from the 'South Asian Media Awards Foundation' and the 'Prima Donna Award' from the 'Montalcino Vineyards.’
In 2008, the 'Boston College Law School' presented her the 'Eleanor Roosevelt Medal of Honor' and the 'Thomas More Award.' 'World Vision and International AIDS Trust' honored Kennedy's activism with the 2009 'Human Rights Award.'
Kennedy was the recipient of the 'Medal for Social Activism,' awarded by the 'World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates' in 2017, in Bogota, Colombia.
Organizations such as the 'Southern Christian Leadership Conference,' the 'American Jewish Congress of the Metropolitan Region,' and the 'Institute for the Italian Americans' have also felicitated Kennedy's works.
The 'Le Moyne College' and the 'University of San Francisco Law School' have granted Kennedy honorary doctorates of law, while the 'Bay Path College' and the 'Albany College of Pharmacy' have presented her Human Letters.
Family & Personal Life
Kennedy met Andrew Cuomo toward the late 1980s, at a time when he had established a non-profit for the homeless. They eventually began dating and had a lavish wedding at the 'St. Matthew's Cathedral' in Washington, D.C., on June 9, 1990. The media labeled the union as "Cuomolot."
They have three daughters: Twins Cara Ethel Kennedy-Cuomo and Mariah Matilda Kennedy-Cuomo (born in 1995) and Michaela Andrea Kennedy-Cuomo (born in 1997).
Cuomo's long-term absence from home for work stressed Kennedy a lot, and the marriage took a tumultuous turn. Reportedly, Cuomo had distanced Kennedy from her family.
They eventually divorced in 2005, at a time when rumors of Kennedy's affair with professional polo player Bruce Colley had started surfacing. Cuomo dated Sandra Lee for a while but broke up with her in September 2019.
Kennedy and Cuomo now share a cordial relationship and often work together.
During her time at 'Brown University,' Kennedy had dated a college mate for a long time. They were even set to marry each other. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack.
In July 2012, Kennedy was arrested for trying to side-sweep a tractor-trailer in her white 'Lexus' on Interstate 684 in Westchester County. She was later found in a semi-conscious state in her car, and she had trouble speaking. As told to the police, she had accidentally consumed some sleeping pills. However, her medical test found no traces of drugs, and doctors stated she had probably had a seizure attack.
Though the charge of driving while impaired was dropped, Kennedy was booked for leaving the accident scene. Her trials began on February 20, 2014, and she was acquitted on February 28, 2014.