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Maxim Thorne
Maxim Thorne is a philanthropist, lawyer, motivational speaker and consultant in philanthropy and social enterprise, communication and leadership. He is committed to leveling the bench and credits his seminar and students of Philanthropy in Action at Yale for his innovative social enterprise, which he founded in 2014. JusticeInvestor crowd funds for environmental and social justice cases so that plaintiffs have the funds to hire the best lawyers and pay all costs to zealously prosecute their claims against deep pocketed defendants who can no longer expect to outspend, outlast and outclass even the most meritorious claims.

Maxim is a highly desired Keynote Speaker on philanthropy, social enterprise and innovation in human and civil rights and advocacy. He is a media and fundraising expert, working with major organizations on their fundraising, messaging and strategic communications, including in social media.

Maxim served as the Executive Vice President of the Paley Center for Media where he was responsible for expanding and deepening the Paley Center's impact and resources. Formerly he was appointed the Senior Vice President and Chief Development and Communications Officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 2008. He helped carve a unique role for philanthropy and the expansion of human rights in the country’s largest and oldest civil rights organization. He oversaw the formation and implementation of the first NAACP LGBT Taskforce at the NAACP Centennial Convention in 2009 and a $1M gift from Tyler Perry, the largest gift from an entertainer to a civil rights organization, as well as multi-million and multi-year funding from the world’s largest corporate and philanthropic foundations. He created and led the NAACP Business Council and the Second Century Society that convenes Fortune 100 C-Suite Executives from Wall and Main Street to address diversity on Boards and at the senior executive level.

Thorne was a bundler for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, serving on the African American Leadership Council as well as LGBT Leadership Council and Finance and Policy Committees.

Prior to his role at the NAACP Maxim was the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Before that Maxim was Executive Director of New Jersey Head Start, an association of all the Head Start programs in New Jersey serving over 19000 children and families. At the NJHSA, he oversaw the implementation of Abbott v. Burke for Head Start programs, the seminal New Jersey Supreme Court decision he helped argue, that mandated parity in funding for low-income children and Whole School Reform. He was formerly the Litigation Director and Deputy Executive Director of Passaic County Legal Aid Society. Prior to the Society he worked on several United Nations international treaties that resulted from the Earth Summit.

Maxim is credited with securing over hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding for education reform in New Jersey focusing on preschool. He has testified before the US Congress on issues of education reform, Head Start and universal preschool funding. In 1998, Maxim and Passaic County Legal Aid Society received the first ever problem solver award from the American Bar Association for excellence and creativity in representing the poor, and recognition by the Clinton White House during the 25th Anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation. In 2000 he was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award from Head Start Region II for his legal achievements.

Maxim credits Sponsors for Educational Opportunity with landing his first job at Goldman Sachs as an undergraduate. He later worked at Wachtell Lipton Rosen and Katz and at Lowenstein Sandler Fisher Kohl and Boylan.

Maxim received his B.A. in Economic and Political Science, cum laude honors, from Yale University in 1989 and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1992.

He serves on the Yale Board of Governors, the Executive Committee of the Yale Law School, National Board of GLAAD, The Yale Black Alumni Association and the North Star Fund. Formerly he served on the Board of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey (1st Vice Chair). Maxim’s childhood was spent in British Guyana and the Bahamas. He is currently working on a documentary film on the rise and fall of ACORN and a book about American Philanthropy, culture, politics and society.

Entries by Maxim Thorne

Transforming the Majority Shouldn't be the 'Job' of Minorities, But it Is. Especially for Students.

(2) Comments | Posted November 13, 2015 | 11:21 AM

For those of us involved in social movements we get that our life's work is to educate the majority. For many of us, that began in school. The conversations and eruptions taking place on Yale's campus are not new. When I was a student at Yale in the...

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Police Thug Game: The Hunger Games of Baltimore and America

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2015 | 12:09 PM


In the Hunger Games bestselling novels and movies, the rich capital uses terroristic "games" to control the 12 poor surrounding districts. The games are part entertainment, part brutal retribution. No young fan of the books or movies would miss the uncanny parallels between...

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Refreshing Tears: Uncontrolled and Welcomed at the Obama Inauguration

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2013 | 3:47 PM

I feel the constant tears today, freezing on my face but not resisting at all. I even cried (embarrassed) when I interviewed the young woman from New Jersey who has applied for entry to Yale. I just can't help it today.

The last two years have been tough ones for...

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Jodie Foster -- Letting Lambs Roar

(8) Comments | Posted January 14, 2013 | 6:33 PM

TV history was made last night: The stunning Jodie Foster, twice Oscar winner and tonight's winner of the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement, thanked her ex-partner Cydney Bernard, with whom she has two boys. While saying that she did her "coming out in the Stone Age,"...

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(Sky) Dive Into 2013

(4) Comments | Posted January 2, 2013 | 5:54 PM

Watching the sun as it set on the Waikiki skyline at the close of the last day of 2012, I recalled that it was a bumpy year for many, what with unemployment, low pay, high gas prices, shooting deaths, broken marriages, the fiscal cliff, floods, storms and more. On the...

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How the Crown Princess Nanny Could Help Us Avoid the Fiscal Cliff

(3) Comments | Posted December 10, 2012 | 2:37 PM

The Crown Princess of Norway Mette-Marit has made an extraordinary trip to India, posing as a nanny to care for twins newly born through a surrogate for her two married gay male friends and Norwegian countrymen. This is a complicated story with a lot of heart. The tale involves helpless...

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Romney's Empathy Bypass -- and What It Means for Election Day

(1) Comments | Posted November 4, 2012 | 1:48 PM

When Presidential candidate Mitt Romney argued that defunding the Federal Emergency Relief program FEMA was necessary he set in motion his likely defeat on November 6th, 2012. He built upon this narrative with his characterization of 47% of Americans as leeches and self-dealing victims on society....

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Obama-Romney Final Debate: Chess or Battleships?

(169) Comments | Posted October 22, 2012 | 11:45 PM

Tonight Romney seemed to be playing Battleship; Obama chess. While postured as the Foreign Policy Debate -- Romney certainly drove home his local economic agenda, perhaps avoiding his apparent weakness on foreign policy. He reiterated the millions on food stamps.

Battleship is a guessing game for two players, and time...

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Obama's Middle Game -- Warm Alpha Male

(1) Comments | Posted October 17, 2012 | 9:17 AM

When pundits were condemning President Obama's first debate performance I saw "groupthink" in action. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within groups of people, in which the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. I found almost no commentators willing to look at...

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Obama's Opening Gambit

(11) Comments | Posted October 16, 2012 | 9:28 PM

Obama's gambit -- his turn again on Tuesday.

My father taught me chess -- and the way he always won was by his opening gambit. Perhaps that is why I see through President Obama's debate gambit. In chess, a gambit is when a player sacrifices material with the hope of...

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Wealth, Weddings, Poverty and Philanthropy -- A Weekend Rolling in American Philanthropy

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2012 | 6:48 PM

I was in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday for two friends' wedding. Weddings are those wonderful opportunities to see friends in the context of their families, local community and colleagues. You come together in a cross generational event that reminds you that you and they are part of a particular...

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Scars: The Complicated Making of Historic Moments and Progressive Philanthropy

(2) Comments | Posted April 2, 2012 | 1:46 PM

I was just asked to participate in an event at the Ford Foundation. It is a fascinating collaboration with The BRITDOC Foundation and The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program called the Good Pitch. I will be engaging film director Yoruba Richen on her documentary, The New Black. The documentary uncovers...

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The Julian Bond Philanthropy Song

(0) Comments | Posted April 2, 2012 | 1:52 AM

I traveled down the Amazon River over the 2011 Christmas and New Year holidays with civil rights icon Julian Bond and his brilliant wife Pamela Horowitz. I had gotten to know Julian and Pam, from years of traveling with them trying to raise money to secure the financial future of...

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How Howard Pew's Vision Gestated Rick Santorum -- and Lessons for Progressive Philanthropy

(2) Comments | Posted March 26, 2012 | 11:14 AM

Recently, a friend posted on facebook a Clay Bennett cartoon that captured the puzzling religious nature of the Republican platform -- at least as it has been developing in the 2012 primaries. In the cartoon a woman is strapped to the "USA bed" and a priest seems to...

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The Komen-Planned Parenthood Case -- A Philanthropic and Political Victory for Us All

(20) Comments | Posted February 7, 2012 | 10:25 AM

Can a former Board Member of a local Planned Parenthood defend the Susan G. Komen Foundation?

Of course I can, and I will.

Komen is an extraordinary entrepreneurial foundation that has used many of the tools of business to secure its place as the "the global leader of the...

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Renewing America's Promise: Fired Up for Philanthropy and Democracy in 2012

(0) Comments | Posted December 31, 2011 | 3:59 PM

2012 is almost upon us, and I am optimistic and fired up for the New Year. In 2011 we celebrated the Centennial of Andrew Carnegie giving back all his wealth to society when there was no tax incentive to do so, and the disgrace of Steve Jobs' apparent choice to...

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Giving Thanks for a Meritocracy Instead of Aristocracy

(5) Comments | Posted November 29, 2011 | 5:13 PM

Thanksgiving Day was also my birthday this year. Like many of my philanthropic friends, I want to give back to this society that has done so much for me and for those in need, especially at this time of increasing inequality. This weekend I shuttled between friends and family surviving...

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Supersized Philanthropy and Diminished Democracy

(15) Comments | Posted November 7, 2011 | 5:12 PM

Are supersized philanthropists diminishing our democracy? What bothers the right about "big government" should bother us about "supersized philanthropy." The growing power of philanthropists has begun to undercut our democracy and our democratic institutions.

Famed supersized philanthropist Bill Gates is speaking to the G20 countries in Cannes in favor...

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