Born to a political family, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is the nephew of America’s 35th President, John F. Kennedy, and the son of his Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Both of them lost their lives to the assassin’s bullet: JFK in 1963, and RFK, Sr. in the midst of his 1968 Presidential campaign.
Rather than enter politics himself, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. carried on his family’s legacy of public service by devoting himself to environmental causes and children’s welfare. He is the founder of the Waterkeeper Alliance — the world’s largest clean water advocacy group — and served as its longtime chairman and attorney. He then went on to found Children’s Health Defense, a mass membership organization where he served as chairman and chief litigation counsel in its campaign to address childhood chronic disease and toxic exposures.
Kennedy’s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment and children’s health stems from hundreds of successful legal actions. TIME Magazine named Kennedy its “Hero for the Planet” for his leadership in the fight to restore the Hudson River. This achievement helped spawn more than 300 Waterkeeper organizations across the globe. The New York City watershed agreement, which he negotiated on behalf of environmentalists and New York City watershed consumers, is regarded as an international model in stakeholder consensus negotiations and sustainable development.
Kennedy has enjoyed legal victories in many milestone environmental battles over the past four decades in Latin America, Canada, and the United States. Most recently, Kennedy was on the trial team in the landmark victories against Monsanto in 2018, and against DuPont in 2019 in the contamination case that inspired the movie “Dark Waters.” In addition to his environmental work, he has represented Indigenous groups asserting legal and treaty rights across Latin America and Canada.
Kennedy is also an award-winning writer whose articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Nation, Outside Magazine, the Village Voice, and many others. Among his published books are two New York Times’ bestsellers: “Crimes Against Nature” (2005) and “The Real Anthony Fauci” (2021). His highly reviewed biography is American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family. Kennedy is the author of two children’s books on American history and a third on Saint Francis of Assisi.
After graduating from Harvard University, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. studied at the London School of Economics and received his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. He then attended Pace University School of Law, which awarded him a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law. He served on the Pace Law School faculty from 1986 to 2018 and cofounded and supervised Pace's Environmental Litigation Clinic.
Kennedy was born on January 17, 1954, in Washington, DC, and is the third of 11 children of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy, who recently celebrated her 95th birthday.
Kennedy is married to Cheryl Hines, a noted actress. The couple has seven children, including Kennedy’s six children from two previous marriages.