Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy

Inducted: 2018
Born: 1967

Patrick Joseph Kennedy II was born in Brighton, Massachusetts on July 14, 1967, the son of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and Joan Bennett Kennedy. After graduation from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in 1986, he began a quarter-century of residence in Rhode Island bringing with him both the benefits and the burdens of the Kennedy legacy.
Patrick enrolled at Providence College and while a junior ran for state representative. He won both the Democratic primary and the general election and served two terms in our General Assembly. He continued his winning ways in 1994 by running successfully for the First District congressional seat vacated by Ron Machtley. Thereafter, Kennedy won a total of eight House races handily before declining a reelection run in 2010.
During 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives Patrick fought to end discrimination against mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases. He is best known as the lead sponsor of the groundbreaking Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The Parity Law provides tens of millions of Americans, who were previously denied care, with access to mental health treatment by requiring insurance companies to treat illnesses of the body
the same as diseases of the brain, such as clinical depression and opioid addiction. In addition to the Parity Law, Kennedy authored and co-sponsored dozens of bills to increase the understanding and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including the Alzheimer’s Treatment and Caregiver Support Act.
Despite a productive congressional career, Kennedy’s induction to the Hall of Fame rests mainly upon his decades-long inspirational advocacy of laws and programs to improve the lives of people who are experiencing mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases. Since leaving Congress in 2011 to develop a healthier lifestyle and start a family, Patrick has kept his promise to enforce the Parity Law and to push for greater global investment in brain research, a field that he has called, “the next great frontier in medicine.” Toward this end, Kennedy founded two innovative nonprofit organizations that are changing the lives of people with mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases.
As the founder of the Kennedy Forum, Patrick drives the national dialogue about transforming the mental health system in America. The forum aims to revolutionize the way mental health care is delivered in America.
As the co-founder of One Mind, Patrick helped spark a global revolution in how scientists collaborate to study, diagnose, and treat brain diseases. One Mind is pioneering a worldwide approach to ensure that scientific research, results, and data are available to researchers everywhere.
Patrick’s most important achievement continues to be leveraging his powerful family legacy in the arenas of civil rights, mental health, and intellectual disabilities to advance the cause of social justice and human dignity. He has shared his own experience with addiction–and its conquest–in the best-selling book A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction (2015).
Shortly after Patrick’s 2011 marriage to Amy Savell, the couple moved from their residence in Portsmouth to her home state of New Jersey where the couple reside with their young and growing family. They are the proud parents of Owen, Nora, and Nell.
(Dr.) Patrick T. Conley

Scroll to Top