Feinberg was born in the working-class Boston suburb of Brockton. His father was a tire salesman, and his mother was a bookkeeper at a community center. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts and New York University School of Law, clerked for a New York state appeals court judge, served as an assistant U.S. attorney, became chief of staff for Sen. Ted Kennedy, and went on to build a lucrative private law practice.
Bruce Eisen, a friend for 25 years, describes Feinberg as only "superficially a Type A personality," a man who may appear driven and single-minded, but who really has a compassionate heart. "There's a certain warmth and softness about Ken when he has concerns and considerations about people," says Eisen. But he admits that his buddy "doesn't do anything without stepping back first and focusing on the issue and problem and the best way to solve it."
That appears to be what Feinberg is trying to do in the Gulf. "The test of the success of this program, like the others, is how effective are you at getting the money out to the people," he says.
Judi Hasson is a writer in McLean, Va.