Who Is Kerry Kennedy, Andrew Cuomo's Ex-Wife and a Prominent Activist?

Activist Kerry Kennedy, whose full name is Mary Kerry Kennedy, was married to New York governor Andrew Cuomo between 1990 and 2005. 

Kerry Kennedy-Cuomo and husband Andrew Cuomo are on hand at
(Image credit: Bennett Raglin)

Kerry Kennedy, whose full name is Mary Kerry Kennedy, was married to New York governor Andrew Cuomo from 1990 to 2005. Her parents are Robert Francis Kennedy (a.k.a. RFK) and Ethel Skakel—she was seventh out of their 11 total children. She and Cuomo were married for 15 years, and the two share three children together. A long-time human rights activist, Kerry still plays a prominent role in the Kennedy family, specifically the legacy of her father. So what do we know about her?

The marriage was intense, and stressful.

There is a terrific Vanity Fair article about their union, but in a nutshell, Kerry took the lead on furthering the work of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights from the time she was a young adult. She went to Brown University and Boston College for law school, and she'd suffered an early loss—her college boyfriend died of a sudden heart attack. Kerry and Cuomo were both activists who came from political families, although the Kennedys didn't always approve of the Cuomos. By the time they married, journalists were calling the union "Cuomolot."

When Cuomo took on-air interviews after the death of Michael Kennedy, Kerry's brother, in 1997, it apparently greatly upset the Kennedy family. By the early 2000s, there were reported tensions in the marriage, with Cuomo intensely driven by work and Kerry stressed at home with their three young daughters. Nevertheless, Kerry worked on Cuomo's first campaign for governor—it went disastrously, he quit the race, and soon after Kerry asked him for a divorce.

Ron Galella Archive - File Photos 2010

(Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd.)

The two have three daughters.

Mariah, Cara, and Michaela, like their parents, are activists as well. Per Oprah Mag, "Michaela, 22, spent her college years using her platform to give victims of sexual abuse a voice. Mariah, 25, an outdoors enthusiast and athlete, continues to work closely with her mother as an advocate for human rights. And Cara, Mariah’s twin, has traveled the world fighting for social justice." Cara's an associate on the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights nonprofit (Kerry is the president) and travels the world doing her advocacy work.

Cuomo was in a long-term relationship with Sandra Lee, but the two split in September 2019. The two exes, Kerry and Cuomo, apparently have a cordial relationship now: In 2019, Cuomo signed into law the Farm Workers Bill, which Kerry has apparently advocated for for a long time. During his speech, Cuomo mentioned his family:

"'I believe Robert Kennedy would be most pleased to know the great courage and perseverance that he so admired was shown by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, led by his own daughter, Kerry, and by his granddaughters—Cara, Mariah and Michaela,' Cuomo said while looking fondly at his ex."

Otherwise, it seems the two stay quiet about the nature of their relationship. Both seem to be close with their children.

She's still very active on causes she supports.

Kerry's still involved with the family through advocacy work, continuing as president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. She's also editor of Being Catholic Now and author of Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope, which discusses her father's influence and impact. She's also author of Speak Truth to Power, which features prominent human rights activists. 

Interestingly, unlike a number of her family members, Kerry's pretty active on social media. She talks about human rights, and often posts about her family and in particular her father:

And she regularly does interviews to talk about her work.

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Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.