2012 Distinguished Alumni Award: Marian Kennedy

After completing her undergraduate psychology Honors degree at the University of Connecticut in 1970, Marian Kennedy moved to California with a fellow Honors student. A year later she began law school at the University of Santa Clara. In 1974 she interned with the California Supreme Court, and has worked as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board. In 1979 she entered Harvard Law School to complete her Master of Laws degree before moving to The Netherlands to marry a Dutch citizen she had met at Harvard. From 1981 to 1992, the couple worked in California, New York City, and The Netherlands. They also had two children, Nicole and Robert.

Ms. Kennedy has spent the greatest part of her career as an attorney in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She learned the Dutch language and earned an additional law degree at the University of Leiden to formalize her knowledge in Dutch law. She served as an attorney for two Dutch law firms before co-founding Kennedy Van der Laan in 1992 with ten Dutch lawyers. Ms. Kennedy specialized in Information Technology law, and her firm was instrumental in integrating IT law (eventually Technology law) into The Netherlands legal system. The firm attracted several large IT clients from the U.S. and The Netherlands, and remains a leader in this field. By the time Ms. Kennedy retired from the firm in late 2007, Kennedy Van der Laan had grown to more than 200 employees.

Two years after returning to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ms. Kennedy accepted a business proposal from a former Harvard classmate and close friend, now CEO of an Israeli company, to assist the organization in U.S. commercial real estate investments. Though Ms. Kennedy knew little about real estate investment at the time, she learned quickly and continues to advance her knowledge in this area as she helps manage several investment projects.

In addition to her commitment to the law, Ms. Kennedy is a passionate philanthropist. During her decade in The Netherlands, she served as chair for two startup non-profit groups dedicated to women’s health and empowerment. She also volunteered through the Dutch Bar Association as a teacher and mentor for promising young female attorneys. Since returning to the U.S., she has become a volunteer for various non-profits, acting as a consultant to help them strengthen their operations. Ms. Kennedy is also an avid traveler and takes time to dabble in art, music, lectures, hiking, and any other activities that help her experience life.