Mary Kerry Kennedy (known as Kerry) was born on September 8, 1959 in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the seventh of the eleven children of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy. Three days after her birth, her father resigned as chief counsel of the Senate Rackets Committee.
Early Life and EducationEdit
For most of her childhood Kerry lived in Mclean, Virginia at her family's famous estate called Hickory Hill. Kerry's uncle, John F. Kennedy, was elected president in 1960 when Kerry was just one year old. Her father, Robert F. Kennedy, was appointed his Attorney General. In November 1963 John F. Kennedy was assassinated and shortly after Kerry's father resigned as Attorney General to run for a seat in the Senate for the state of New York. The whole family helped campaign and Robert F. Kennedy won, so Kerry and her family lived in both New York and Mclean, Virginia. In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy decided to run for president. On June 6, 1968 after winning the California Democratic Primary, Kerry's father was shot and died shortly after. Kerry with the rest of her family traveled back to New York for the funeral services. Six months later, Kerry's youngest sister, Rory Elizabeth Katherine was born.
Kerry is a graduate of The Putney School and Brown University and received her J.D. from Boston College Law School. She holds honorary doctorates of law from Le Moyne College and University of San Francisco Law School, and honorary doctorates of Human Letters from Bay Path College and the Albany College of Pharmacy.
Marriage, Family and DivorceEdit
On June 9, 1990, Kerry married Andrew Cuomo in the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, DC. They have three daughters: twins Cara Ethel Cuomo and Mariah Matilda Cuomo (born January 11, 1995), and Michaela Andrea Cuomo (born August 26, 1997). Kerry and Andrew divorced in 2005 during Cuomo's term as New York State Attorney General. The two had a bitter divorce, amid allegations Kerry cheated on Cuomo with a polo player.
Activism and Human Rights WorkEdit
Since 1981, Kerry has worked as a human rights activist, leading delegations into places such as El Salvador, Gaza, Haiti, Kenya, Northern Ireland, and South Korea. She was also involved in causes in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Sudan, and Pakistan.
Kerry established the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in 1988 and was the Executive Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial until 1995. She is the Honorary President of the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation of Europe, based in Florence (Italy). She is also the chair of the Amnesty International Leadership Council, and has been published in The Boston Globe, The Chicago Sun-Times, and The New York Times. She is a judge for the Reebok Human Rights Award.
Kerry's life has been devoted to equal justice, to the promotion and protection of basic rights, and to the preservation of the rule of law. She started working in the field of human rights in 1981 as an intern with Amnesty International, where she investigated abuses committed by U.S. immigration officials against refugees from El Salvador.
For over thirty years, Kerry has worked on diverse human rights issues such as 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, particularly honor killings, sexual slavery, domestic violence, workplace discrimination, and sexual assault. She has worked in over 60 countries and led hundreds of human rights delegations.
Kerry established RFK Center Partners for Human Rights in 1986 to ensure the protection of rights codified under the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. RFK Partners provides support to courageous human rights defenders around the world. The Center uncovers human rights abuses like torture, repression of free speech and child labor; urges Congress and the U.S. administration to highlight human rights in foreign policy; and supplies activists with the resources they need to advance their work. Kennedy also founded RFK Compass, which works on sustainable investing with leaders in the financial community. She started the RFK Training Institute in Florence, Italy, which offers courses of study to leading human rights defenders across the globe.
Kerry is also 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, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, and more. This book has been translated into 6 languages, with more coming, and has been adapted into a play by Ariel Dorfman. It also is the foundation for the RFK Center's Speak Truth To Power program - a multi-faceted global initiative that uses the experiences of courageous defenders from around the world to educate students and others about human rights, and urge them to take action. The curriculum focus on issues range from slavery and environmental activism to religious self-determination and political participation
Kerry has appeared numerous times 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, Marie Claire, The New York Times, Página/12, TV Guide and the Yale Journal of International Law. As a special correspondent for the environmental magazine television program, “Network Earth”, she reported on human rights and the environment. She interviewed human rights leaders for Voice of America.
Kerry is Chair of the Amnesty International USA Leadership Council. Nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate, she serves on the board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace, as well as Human Rights First, 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 International Campaign for Tibet, the Committee on the Administration of Justice of Northern Ireland, the Global Youth Action Network, Studies without Borders and several other organizations. She serves on the leadership council of the Amnesty International Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women and on the Advisory Board of the Albert Schweitzer Institute and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s National Advisory Council.
Kerry was named Woman of the Year 2001 by Save the Children, Humanitarian of the Year Award from the South Asian Media Awards Foundation, and the Prima Donna Award from Montalcino Vineyards. In 2008, she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Medal of Honor and the Thomas Moore Award from Boston College Law School. World Vision and International AIDS Trust gave her the 2009 Human Rights Award. She has received awards from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (for leadership in abolishing the death penalty), the American Jewish Congress of the Metropolitan Region, and the Institute for the Italian American experience three I’s award for outstanding efforts and achievements for human rights