TEDxBoston

John Kerry

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

John Kerry is an American politician, former Democratic senator, presidential candidate, secretary of state, and climate envoy.

Kerry was born on December 11, 1943, at Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. Not long after his birth, Kerry’s family returned to Massachusetts, where his parents, Richard and Rosemary, lived.

As he was graduating from Yale University, Kerry volunteered to serve in the United States Navy. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, Kerry served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was decorated with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts.

After graduating from Boston College Law School in 1976, he went to work as a top prosecutor in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. In 1982, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.

Two years later, Kerry was elected to the United States Senate. As the ranking Democrat on the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee, he was a leading expert on that region, including North Korea. He worked on a bipartisan basis to craft the American response to September 11th and has been a leading voice on American policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, the Middle East peace process and Israel’s security.

In 2002, John Kerry announced that he would be a candidate for president of the United States – and he went on to mount a come from behind campaign that won the Democratic nomination in 2004. Kerry lost the Electoral College and the popular vote to George W. Bush by narrow margins, winning 251 electors toBush’s 286 and 48.3% of the popular vote to Bush’s 50.7%.

Kerry returned to the Senate, where he served from 2009 to 2013 as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and held positions on the Finance, Commerce, and Small Business Committees.

In January 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Kerry to be his next secretary of state to succeed Hillary Clinton. Obama considered Kerry to be the ideal candidate for the job with his decades of political experience. “John’s played a central role in every major foreign policy debate for nearly 30 years,” Obama said in a press conference.

As secretary, Kerry initiated an unsuccessful series of negotiations in search of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Kerry retired from his diplomatic work following the end of the Obama administration on January 20, 2017. In 2018, he published his memoir, Every Day Is Extra.

Soon after his election, President Joe Biden appointed Kerry as the first special envoy for climate.

Kerry is married to Teresa Heinz Kerry, and has two daughters, three sons, and two grandchildren.