Richard Kinder was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri in 1944. He received a B.A. in 1966 and a J.D. in 1968, both from the University of Missouri. In college, he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity.
He started his career as a lawyer and real-estate investor in Houston, Texas. After he filed for bankruptcy, he joined the Enron Corporation. He had been friends with its founder, Kenneth Lay, in college. From 1990 to December 1996, he served as its President and COO. In 1996, he left Enron and started a new pipeline company with William V. Morgan, another friend from college. They purchased Enron Liquids Pipeline for $40 million. They also merged with KN Energy. From 1994 to 2004, he was a Board member of Baker Hughes.
He serves on the Boards of Directors of Transocean, Waste Management, Inc. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline, and Vice Chairman and Director of the National Petroleum Council.
He is a life trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and a national Board member of the Smithsonian Institution. A Republican, he campaigned for Bush-Quayle in 1992, for Bush-Cheney in 2004, for John McCain in 2008, and for Kay Bailey Hutchison and Tom DeLay.
He is worth US$9.4 billion. As such, he is the 41st richest American citizen. He is twice married, with one child from his first marriage. His divorce was in 1996, the same year he left Enron. He lives in Houston, Texas.
The Kinders founded the Kinder Foundation in an effort to support education and the Greater Houston area by promoting preservation and accessibility to parks and green space. Through the foundation, Kinder donated $15 million to Rice University in 2010 to establish the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.
In October 2013, it was announced that the foundation would give $50 million to the Houston Parks Board for the Bayou Greenways 2020 Project, which connects greenspaces along Houston's bayous and creates parkland.
- Kinder Morgan biography
- BusinessWeek profile
- Daniel Gilbert, Miguel Bustillo, 'Richard Kinder: New Energy Patch King', in The Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2011 
- Shira Ovide, 'Richard Kinder: The Luckiest Ex-Enron Employee', in The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2011 
- NNBD profile
- Forbes profile 2011
- The Forbes 400: The Richest People in America
- 'Rich Kinder is Houston’s richest person, Forbes says', in Houston Business Journal, September 22, 2011 
- "Rice announces the Kinder Institute for Urban Research". Rice University. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- "Major Gifts". Kinder Foundation. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Pugh, Clifford. "Green for greenspace: Rich and Nancy Kinder donate $50 million to ambitious bayou parks plan". Culture Map Houston. Retrieved 18 November 2013.