Thomas Kean Biography

Governor, Academic (1935–)
Politician Thomas Kean is a former two-term New Jersey governor who was later appointed chair of the 9/11 Commission.


Born on April 21, 1935, in New York, New York, Thomas Kean was an educator and journalist before entering politics, winning election to the New Jersey Assembly and holding leadership positions there throughout the '70s. He served two terms as New Jersey governor starting in 1982 and later became head of Drew University. In the new millennium he was appointed chairperson of the 9/11 Commission.

Early Life

Republican politician, former governor of New Jersey and Chairman of the 9/11 Commission Thomas Howard Kean, Sr. was born on April 21, 1935, in New York, New York. Kean grew up in a family of governors, Senators and Congressmen. He attended Princeton University and Columbia University and worked as a teacher before embarking on his own political career.

New Jersey Governor

In 1967, Kean was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly. He lost his 1977 bid for New Jersey Governor, but won the election in 1981 and again in 1985. Following his second term, Kean served as President of Drew University, a small liberal arts college in New Jersey, while nurturing his political career. In 1997, he was appointed as an Advisory Board member of President Clinton's One America Initiative, designed to ease domestic racial tension.

9/11 Commission

Kean stepped onto the global stage in 2002, when President Bush appointed him as Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, which was responsible for investigating the causes of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and providing recommendations to prevent future terrorist attacks. In 2004, the Commission concluded that the 9/11 terror attacks could have been prevented, laying blame in part with the CIA and FBI.

In 2004, Kean and fellow Commissioner Lee H. Hamilton published a book, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, which accused the Pentagon and Federal Aviation Administration of repeatedly making innacurate statements during Commission interviews and the possible obstruction of justice. In 2006, Kean was a paid consultant and executive producer for the ABC miniseries, The Path to 9/11. The docudrama was criticized for its factual errors and many believed that it was inappropriate for Kean to be involved in the project.

Recent Work and Personal Life

In recent years, Kean has been accused of fiscal mismanagement as a member of the board of UnitedHealth Group. He currently sits on several corporate boards, including ARAMARK, Hess Corporation, Pepsi Bottling Group and Franklin Templeton Investments.

Kean and his wife Deborah have three children, including New Jersey State Senator Tom Kean, Jr. Kean is also a weekly columnist for Newark??s Star-Ledger.

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