Maxim Thorne

Senior executive, lawyer, motivational speaker, professor, philanthropist and consultant

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.