Max Kennedy

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Max Kennedy
Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy

(1965-01-11) January 11, 1965 (age 55)
Alma materHarvard University (A.B.)
University of Virginia (J.D.)
Political partyDemocratic
Victoria Anne Strauss
(m. 1991)
Parent(s)Robert F. Kennedy
Ethel Skakel

Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy (born January 11, 1965) is an American lawyer and author. A member of the Kennedy family, he is the ninth child of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy.

Early years[edit]

Kennedy was born in New York City and baptized by Monsignor William McCormack in Manhattan's St. Patrick's Cathedral, in front of a crowd of 200 people. He is named after General Maxwell D. Taylor, then serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam. Taylor did not attend the baptism.[1]

Kennedy attended Phillips Academy[2] and after expulsion[3] attended Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, graduating in 1983.[4] He graduated from Harvard College where he majored in American history and was a member of the Spee Club of Harvard University, a Final Club. He married Victoria Anne Strauss (born February 10, 1964),[5] the granddaughter of Maurice "Moe" Strauss[6] on July 13, 1991, in Philadelphia.

Both he and his wife graduated in 1992 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was elected president of the Student Legal Forum. Both his father and his uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, had served as presidents of the Student Legal Forum.



Kennedy wrote the national best-selling book titled Make Gentle the Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy and the Words That Inspired Him.

He is also the author of Danger's Hour: The Story of the USS Bunker Hill and the Kamikaze Pilot Who Crippled Her, which was released by Simon & Schuster on Veterans Day (November 11, 2008).[7] The book garnered praise from filmmaker Ken Burns, journalist Tom Brokaw, and historians Walter Isaacson, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Stanley Karnow.

Collaborating with Harvard documentary filmmaker Randolph Bell, he is writing, producing, and directing a documentary on the use of suicide as a weapon of war. His articles have appeared in DoubleTake Magazine, Conde Nast Traveller, and Escape Magazine.

Civil, human, and environmental rights work[edit]

Kennedy began his law career in July 1992,serving for three years as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

As a director of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, Kennedy has led human rights missions to Haiti, South Africa, and Kenya.

Kennedy co-founded the Urban Ecology Institute at Boston College, where he taught in the Biology and English Departments, to cause change through community action and education. In response to the considerable ecological and economic challenges in the city of Boston, the Urban Ecology Institute attempts to study the emerging field of urban ecology, with the intention of helping residents understand the natural resources in their communities, along with the actions that must be taken in order to protect them.[8]

An avid civil rights and environmental rights advocate, Kennedy spoke at the Loyola Marymount University Bellarmine Forum in 2006 on the importance of urban ecology. Kennedy claimed that the Jesuit colleges should be more involved in their local communities, and that scientists, educators and attorneys must work with middle- and high-school youth to improve science and civic education, and to protect and transform natural resources before they are lost forever.

Kennedy is working with the Pearl Coalition to build a museum of remembrance and recognition of the greatest African American Slave escape in American History.

While at Georgetown University, Kennedy concentrated on Latin-American history, and has made dozens of trips through Central and Latin America, spending time in nearly every country in South America. He joined a Venezuelan mapping team to attempt to create the first detailed maps of the upper reaches of the Rio Caroni. He co-led (with Barry Clifford) an expedition to locate the sunken French fleet of Admiral D`Estress off the Las Aves Archipelago of Venezuela, and participated in the subsequent filming of the BBC/Discovery Channel Documentary about the lost fleet, which had sunk in 1678 while attempting to sack the Dutch at Curaçao. Max Kennedy partially financed and produced two Venezuelan historical long featured films about Manuela Saenz in 2000 (Lover of Simon Bolivar and Colonel in the Venezuelan Independence Army) and Francisco de Miranda in 2005 (Leader of Venezuelan Independence). His name appears on the credits of both films and other Venezuelan films to which he has contributed. Kennedy has toured the Venezuelan Barrios, and was successfully involved in the fundraising of donations from the U.S. to the homeless children's shelter run by Fundación Atenea in Caracas.

Kennedy has had extensive meetings with Leopoldo Lopez, former Mayor of Chacao – formerly one of the only elected opposition figures in Caracas – and with Henrique Capriles, former Mayor of Baruta and current Governor of the State of Miranda. He has been a personal friend for more than 15 years to Maria Corina Machado, the head of SUMATE (a Venezuelan NGO that promotes clean elections), and an individual who has been indicted by the Government under several criminal charges for that reason.

Kennedy worked as a research fellow at the John Carter Brown Library for Advanced Research in History and the Humanities at Brown University.


Although Kennedy has never run for public office, he has shown a consistent interest in public affairs, and has been involved in many campaigns, usually as a field organizer.

Kennedy began working as a field organizer for the first congressional campaign of Joseph Patrick Kennedy II in 1986, where he organized wards in Allston and Brighton. Later, he managed the re-election campaign for Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 2000. Max Kennedy has volunteered on a number of other campaigns, including the presidential campaigns of Edward M. Kennedy in 1980; Michael Dukakis in 1988; Al Gore in 2000; John Kerry in 2004, and as a surrogate for Barack Obama in 2008.

In 2001, the Boston and New York media touted Kennedy as a possible candidate for Massachusetts's 9th congressional district, a seat vacated by Democrat Joe Moakley.[9] Kennedy never declared his candidacy, citing his desire to spend time with his family, including his three children under the age of 10.[10]

Maxwell Kennedy endorsed Senator Barack Obama early in the primary season,[11] and campaigned for Senator Obama throughout 2008 at approximately 200 events in crucial swing states, including Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, he visited diners and doughnut shops at six a.m. and led senior citizens in singing old Irish ballads at lunch centers;[12] Kennedy campaigned in Indiana on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and again during the Jefferson-Jackson dinner;[13] he campaigned also across Texas from Austin to Dallas and Fort Worth through San Antonio. He phone-banked for Senator Obama[14] and spoke at several Rock the Vote Bus Tour events.[15] He also introduced Senator Obama at a dinner in Hickory Hill.[16]

In October 2009, Kennedy announced that he would be endorsing Alan Khazei in the special election to fill the US Senate seat of his late uncle, Ted Kennedy.[17]

Kennedy was nominated by President Obama to serve as a Member of the Board of the Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) on January 26, 2011. He was sworn in to office by Elizabeth Littlefield, the President of OPIC in November 2011[18], and received a Security Clearance. Kennedy served on the Board until January 2018.

Soon after, Kennedy and his wife Victoria moved to Chicago to work with his brother Chris Kennedy who was campaigning for Governor of Illinois.[citation needed]


Kennedy works as counsel to the law firm of Strange and Butler LLP in Los Angeles, California.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Kennedy and his wife Victoria have one son: Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy Jr. (born September 18, 1993), and two daughters: Caroline Summer Rose Kennedy (born December 29, 1994), and Noah Isabella Kennedy (born July 9, 1998 in Hyannis, Massachusetts).

When Max and Edward Kennedy Jr. were children, grandmother Rose would tell them the story of how their uncle, President John F. Kennedy, saved a member of his PT boat crew in World War II by towing him to an island.[20] Max visited the Solomon Islands in 2002 with Robert Ballard to revisit the scene of the story of John F. Kennedy's PT-109. He presented a bust of the late president to Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, the native coastwatcher scouts who found the missing Kennedy and his crew.


  • Make Gentle the Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1998)
  • Danger's Hour: The Story of the USS Bunker Hill and the Kamikaze Pilot Who Crippled Her (Simon and Schuster, 2008), ISBN 978-0-7432-6080-0

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Baptism". Time. January 29, 1965. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  2. ^ "Prepping A New Kennedy". Newsweek. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  3. ^ Barbara Bush (October 12, 2004). "Reflections: Live After the White House". Scribner. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  4. ^ "Uncle Sen. Edward M. Kennedy attends graduation of nephew Matthew "Max" Kennedy". UPI. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  5. ^ "American Experience | The Kennedys | Kennedy Family Tree". PBS. January 21, 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  6. ^ "Wedding Announcement". New York Times. October 14, 1990. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  7. ^ "Simon & Schuster Publishes Max Kennedy's new book: ''Danger's Hour''". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  8. ^ "UEI on United Way". Retrieved January 12, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Wall Street Journal". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  10. ^ Goldberg, Carey (June 12, 2001). "New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  11. ^ Theodore, former OFA staff – May 20, 2008 2:04:02 pm ET (May 20, 2008). "Max Kennedy Endorses Obama". Retrieved January 12, 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Merida, Kevin (April 21, 2008). "Kennedy Campaigns for Obama in Scranton". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  13. ^ "Jefferson-Jackson Dinner". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  14. ^ "Obama Phone Bank". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  15. ^ "Rock the Vote Bus Tour". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  16. ^ Calderone, Michael (June 19, 2008). "Max Kennedy introduces Obama". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  17. ^ Thomma, Steven (October 8, 2009). "Max Kennedy to endorse Alan Khazei's US Senate bid". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  18. ^ "OPIC Swears in Five New Board Members". OPIC. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  19. ^ "Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, Of Counsel, Attorney Law Firm". Strange & Butler LLP. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  20. ^ Wojtas, Joe (December 1, 2002). "Uncovering PT-109 and Family History". New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2012.

External links[edit]