ROBERT K. KRAFT
New England Revolution
Robert Kraft is the founder, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, based in Foxborough, Mass. The Kraft Group is the holding company of the Kraft family's diverse business interests comprised of companies in sports and entertainment, the paper and packaging industry, real estate, and private equity investing.
As Investor/Operator of the New England Revolution (Major League Soccer) and chairman and CEO of the New England Patriots (National Football League), Kraft has cultivated a championship culture in New England by delivering a combined 13 conference titles and five league championships between the two teams. In addition to building a pair of championship-driven franchises, Kraft has committed the resources necessary to transform an undeveloped parcel of land that he purchased in 1985 into Gillette Stadium – a premier concert, entertainment, and event venue that both franchises call home.
Kraft's long-standing support of soccer in the United States dates back to the early 1990s. That’s when he secured Foxboro Stadium as one of the nine host venues for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The success of the 1994 World Cup paved way for a new era of New England sports. On June 6, 1995, the Kraft family became the founding Investor/Operator of the Revolution, joining Major League Soccer (MLS) as one of its 10 charter clubs for its inaugural season in 1996.
Under Kraft's leadership, the Revolution have made five MLS Cup appearances and celebrated both a U.S. Open Cup and a SuperLiga title. Foxborough has also played host to MLS Cup three times, including the 2002 Final between the Revolution and LA Galaxy, which was played at Gillette Stadium in front of the largest crowd in MLS postseason history (61,316).
The United States Men's and Women's National Teams have also enjoyed tremendous support from the Kraft family and soccer fans throughout New England. Since 1990, Foxborough has hosted 33 international matches involving U.S. national teams at Foxboro Stadium (1990-2001) and Gillette Stadium (2002-present). In addition to hosting matches during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Foxborough was a host city for both the 1999 Women's World Cup and the 2003 Women's World Cup. In 1999, more than 50,000 fans watched the U.S. Women’s National Team defeat North Korea, 3-0, in the Women's World Cup. In 2011, the Men’s National Team played before a New England-record crowd for a soccer match of 64,121 fans at Gillette Stadium against the then-defending FIFA World Cup champion Spain.
A native of Brookline, Mass., Kraft attended public schools before matriculating to Columbia University on an academic scholarship. Upon graduation, he received a fellowship to Harvard Business School, where he earned a master's degree in business administration.
Kraft began his business career with the Rand-Whitney Group, Inc. of Worcester, Mass., a company that converted paper into packaging for various industries. He later acquired the company. In 1972, he founded International Forest Products, a trader of paper commodities that now does business in more than 90 countries. Together, Rand-Whitney and International Forest Products comprise one of the largest privately-owned paper and packaging companies in the United States.
In addition to running the Kraft Group, Kraft serves on the board of directors for Apollo Global Management, the Apollo Theater and Carnegie Hall. He is also on the executive committee of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he established the Robert K. Kraft Family Blood Donor Center. A trustee emeritus at Columbia and Boston College, Kraft has also received honorary degrees from several colleges and universities, most recently from Yeshiva University in New York City. He has been honored with the Theodore Roosevelt Award, which is presented annually by the NCAA to a distinguished citizen of national reputation with outstanding accomplishments. Kraft has also been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Patriot Award..
Over the past five decades, the Kraft family has been one of New England's most philanthropic families, donating hundreds of millions of dollars in support of local charities, civic affairs and health care. In 2011, the Kraft family pledged $25 million to Partners HealthCare to launch the Kraft Center for Community Health, an initiative designed to improve the leadership of and access to quality health care at community centers in Massachusetts. The Kraft family also committed $20 million to Harvard Business School to establish an endowment for the advancement of precision medicine. In 2015, Kraft and the Patriots partnered with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to launch a high school anti-violence education initiative. In its pilot year, the Game Change program provided training in violence prevention for students, faculty and coaches in nearly 100 high schools statewide. More than 1,100 individuals have received formal training to lead anti-violence programs in their schools.