As a boy, John really hoped any bio written about him later in life would have the words “professional athlete” featured prominently throughout. He grew up in a working-class family in rural Connecticut playing any game he could, especially baseball and basketball, both of which he dreamed of playing professionally. He also enjoyed music, learning, and an unusual inclination to see things from a wide range of perspectives. At the University of Pennsylvania, he immersed himself in diverse and unfamiliar college cultures, and became the first white student to join the gospel choir and pledge the local chapter of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. He refocused his athletic pursuits from the baseball, basketball, and soccer of his youth, and started competing on Penn’s track and cross-country teams, while also playing intramural sports and pick-up basketball games on various courts across the city of Philadelphia. It was during his first week of college he met his wife Jean (a daughter of Chinese immigrants), and they have been together since.
At Harvard Law School, John studied what justice means across the spectrum of people and perspectives. There his passion to understand the common threads across different viewpoints and cultures led him to teach and clerk with the some of the most renowned figures in the intellectual world, both as a Teaching Fellow for Robert Coles’ class “Literature of Social Reflection” (where he taught Harvard undergrads about social justice), and as a clerk for the famous Third Circuit judge, A. Leon Higginbotham.
At Penn and Harvard, John helped found four organizations where he demonstrated his life-long commitment to finding solutions to social problems and needs — drawing people together in new groups across the lines of race, ethnicity, and faith.
John’s grandfather and father were born and raised in Everett and Watertown (Boston sports fans from birth!) and those deep family ties helped draw John and Jean to stay and raise their children in Massachusetts. (The area’s passion for its fun and successful sports teams may have had something to do with that too!) As John’s career in law and business grew, so did the Kingston family. John and Jean felt it was important to instill in their four kids (now ages 15, 18, 22 and 24) a devotion to giving and service. They initiated an effort known as SixSeeds, which became an organization designed to advance virtue in families by working together to help people in need. They made numerous trips to Mexico, alongside other families, to serve a school set in a squatter community on the hillsides of Tijuana, sent care packages to soldiers in Afghanistan, and delivered backpacks full of supplies to kids without basic materials to start their school year. In Boston, the Kingstons supported urban churches such as Bethel AME and Roxbury Presbyterian Church and their social justice initiatives, and helped foster and facilitate partnerships linking urban and suburban communities and churches.
In 2015, John finished his 16-year career at AMG, which is a public company valued at more than $10 billion that manages more than $700 billion in assets. He then turned his focus to establishing Sword & Spoon Group, a mix of non-profit and for-profit initiatives that focus on strengthening all facets of civic life, in public policy, education, arts, and service.
In the contentious and bitter presidential election season of 2016, John took this commitment to strengthen civic life further into the public arena, providing Americans the opportunity for better and deserved political leadership through creating the national ballot access organization Better For America.
Childhood dreams of playing professional ball may not have panned out for John, but now