Kaj Larsen was born in Santa Cruz, California, and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a degree in Political Science. He earned a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. At Harvard, Kaj was awarded a fellowship from the Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy. He was also a joint fellow at Tufts Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism studies. His focus includes international security policy, media politics, and political affairs. Kaj is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and award-winning filmmaker/correspondent. He is the co-founder of the Guild Financial, a fintech investing platform dedicated to helping the military community build wealth.
As a filmmaker, Kaj created and executive produced the Netflix original series The Business of Drugs which debuted as the #1 streaming show in America. He previously hosted the Emmy award winning series VICE on HBO. At VICE Kaj has produced documentaries on conflict and national security issues. He is the only journalist to be embedded in the Nigerian fight against Boko Haram, and conducted the first exclusive interview with the architect of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program which became the feature film The Report. Kaj was a correspondent at CNN as a member of CNN’s Special Investigations and Documentary unit. He broke the media silence on Somalia by being the first western TV journalist in Mogadishu in over a decade. He has since gone on to report from war zones and conflict spots around the world, in places such as Pakistan, Yemen, Cambodia, Colombia, West Africa, and Latin America. His feature documentaries have covered topics ranging from the drug war in Mexico to the devastating floods in Pakistan. His reporting is distinguished by his in-field and in-depth examination of difficult and dangerous topics around conflict zones, national security, and criminal justice.
Kaj’s intrepid reporting and powerful filmmaking has put him at the vanguard of a new broadcast journalism. He frequently appears on other media outlets such as ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN. He was the senior correspondent and host of The Current Election, a daily show about politics and public policy. As a producer Kaj has created hit television series such as US Navy Pirate Hunters, a one-hour special for Spike TV, and LOCKUP the highly rated show about life in American prison for air on MSNBC. He was Aaron Sorkin’s private consultant on the hit HBO series Newsroom. His work has earned him critical acclaim including two Emmy nominations, a Peabody nomination, two Telly awards, and several Golden Cine awards.
Prior to his work in television, Kaj spent five years on active duty serving as a US Navy SEAL. As a Lieutenant he led a team of special warfare personnel in covert operations overseas deploying as a detachment Commander in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In his last reserve assignment, Lieutenant Commander Larsen stood up the Naval Special Warfare detachment of Special Operations Command Africa where he deployed in support of multiple low-intensity conflicts across the Africa continent.
Kaj is a two-time national champion open-water swimmer, and placed third in the Escape from Alcatraz duathalon. Kaj has lived extensively overseas, including Thailand, where he studied Muay Thai boxing. He is a practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and frequently competes in mixed martial arts competitions.
Kaj used his pay from the service to help launch The Mission Continues, and served on the Board of Directors for five years. Kaj also served on the Boards of Advisors to the Veteran Service Organization Team Rubicon Global. He has deployed three times in support of Team Rubicon to render Humanitarian assistance in Pakistan, the Philippines, and the US. He is a certified Master and Scientific diver for Miami based Force Blue, which repurposes the skills of combat divers towards ocean conservation. He continues to repurpose his military skills towards humanitarian efforts by deploying to conflict zones around the world in places such as Afghanistan, Somalia, and Ukraine.