Kerry Max Cook

  • The Anatomy of D.R.E.A.M.S.
  • Once Called the "Most Persecuted Man in America" (The Houston Chronicle)

Kerry Max Cook has been fascinating audiences with his tale of triumph over insurmountable odds and injustice.

Imagine having the courage and compassion to forgive everyone who wronged you. Kerry has a riveting story to tell and valuable lessons to share. Audiences of all ages can learn from his powerful messages of compassion, forgiveness, determination, resilience, hope, and his teaching of never giving up.


Kerry Max Cook headshot
Past Hosts Include:
  • Tammy DeRosier, Executive Vice President, Dorsey, Wright & Associates
  • Catapult Leadership Society, Nova Scotia
  • Dorsey, Wright & Associates
  • Village Camps International, Geneva
  • Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
  • The Ford Foundation
  • Harbourton Enterprises
  • David R. Dow, Professor of Law, University of Houston Law Center
  • Charles F. Baird, Former Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
  • Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, Author of Dead Man Walking
Rave Reviews About Kerry Max Cook as a Speaker
Kerry is a one of the most refreshing and engaging speakers I know...He is natural and spontaneous and, while he has obviously had an extraordinary and terrible life experience, he remains lively and self

Talks & Conversations with Kerry Max Cook

Life Is Always Worth Living: How Each Day Brings the Promise of Hope

How to Find Your Voice and Develop Confidence in Your Life

Consequences: How to Take Responsibility and Refuse to Be a Victim

Love, Hope, Faith, Trust and the Healing Power of Forgiveness as Renewable Resources

Exonerated by the Evidence, Convicted by the system: the UN-Exoneration of Kerry Max Cook

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Mr. Cook served over 20 years in Texas’ notorious death house for a 1977 rape and murder he did not commit. The Houston Chronicle called him the most persecuted man in America. Self-educated, acting as his own attorney, and on the eve of execution ten years later, Mr. Cook secured help in the form of an investigator who helped him uncover evidence he could not obtain from his death row cell. This evidence was immortalized by Texas’ largest leading newspaper – The Dallas Morning News – in over forty front page stories, beginning with, “Inmate Was Railroaded.” The Dallas Morning News went on win the Texas Bar Association’s prestigious “Silver Gavel Award” for uncovering a grave injustice.

Mr. Cook is a Senior Justice Fellow with the Open Society Institute, the author of his memoir, Chasing Justice and an international speaker. Chasing Justice was a Finalist for “The Edgar,” nominated by Mystery Writer’s of America, a Dallas Morning News best seller, and was awarded “Book of the Year” for non-fiction by Reader’s Digest.

Mr. Cook’s story is featured in the critically acclaimed hit off-Broadway play, The Exonerated, where he plays his own true-life role before sold out theaters. Robin Williams, Richard Dreyfuss, Tim Robbins, and a host of other A-list actors have played Mr. Cook’s character. The Exonerated was adapted into a made for- TV movie by the former Court TV network, with actor Aidan Quinn as Mr. Cook.

Mr. Cook lectures both nationally and internationally on a variety of topics, ranging from the anatomy of a wrongful conviction, to teaching others how to overcome adversity and loss. He has lent his expertise internationally before the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, France, and addressed Amicus in London, England, which are Barristers in training to become American death penalty litigators. He speaks globally on current events and has been the subject of interviews and documentaries from the United States to Ireland, Norway, France, Holland, Demark, and Brazil. Annually, Mr. Cook serves as a role model and guest-speaker to teenagers attending Junior Leadership University, which is a Young President’s Organization (YPO) sponsored event.

Mr. Cook has also appeared on The Today Show, Scarborough Fair, the Tavis Smiley Show, The Diane Rehm Show, Inside Edition, Hollywood Heat, Catherine Crier Live, Frontline, and ABC’s Nightline.

Mr. Cook was a keynote speaker for the California Chapter of the World President’s Organization (WPO), and has presented in venues such as The Harvard Club and the Ford Foundation in New York, as well as the American Bar Association, and Yale, Princeton, and Columbia universities.

Mr. Cook’s story is the story of his descent into the hidden corridors of America’s legal system, the triumph of the human spirit, and learning the importance of forgiveness, the existence of God, and never turning the light out on your dreams. He presents his story around the world in boardrooms, classrooms, universities, and congressional halls to standing ovations.

Today Mr. Cook is a husband and a father, and still chasing justice, just Justice of another kind -- his eightyear old son, Kerry Justice Cook.