Powell Moore: a heart for public affairs communications and service

One of Grady College’s most highly-regarded public affairs communications alumni, Powell Moore (ABJ ’59), has died.

Moore worked with four United States presidents and spent more than five decades in legislative affairs, public policy and international relations.

“Powell Moore stands as one of Grady’s greatest, a constant force for good, always willing to welcome us to the nation’s capital, where he of course was the stuff of legend,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College. “I’m so proud to have known him, and cherish the times spent in his company.”

Moore was surrounded by family when he passed away in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 13.

Amidst his busy career, he always found time for the University of Georgia and Grady College. In the past few years, Moore served on the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research Board of Visitors, the School of Public and International Affairs Board of Visitors and the Grady College Public Affairs Communications Board.

Powell Moore shared his experiences as press secretary to Sen. Russell, his eyewitness account to the day President Nixon resigned and his views of the mid-term election to a group of SPIA, Grady and UGA faculty and students on Nov. 3, 2014.

He mentored many Grady College students who wanted to work in Washington, D.C., sponsored a communications collaborative between Grady College and Georgia Military College and was inducted as a Grady College Fellow in the inaugural class in 2008.

Moore had a prolific career in public affairs communications. He served as Representative for the U.S. Secretary of Defense to the Organization for Security and Cooperation, an appointment by George W. Bush. Moore has also served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs under President Reagan; on the White House staff under Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan; and as chief of staff for Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, among several other jobs. He began his career in 1966 as press secretary to Sen. Richard B. Russell of Georgia.

Moore reflected on his early years growing up in Milledgeville, Georgia; talked about his time as press secretary to Sen. Russell and spoke of his service to the United States during an extensive Russell Library Oral History video interview in 2009. He donated his papers to the Richard B. Russell Library in 2014.

He also shared some thoughts about UGA and his career with Loran Smith (ABJ ’62), during a 2017 interview.

Moore was a faithful supporter of Grady College over the years, returning in 2016 to help teach with Brian Robinson (ABJ ’97) two Introduction to Public Affairs Communications classes.

At the time, Moore said of his experience: “I’ve had some interesting experiences and I wanted to share them with students. The most important lesson we can teach is there is no limit to do what you can achieve if you dream high enough,” Moore said. “The second most important lesson is that words are important. What people say and what they write have true meaning and we need to be disciplined in how we approach the use of the written and spoken word.”

Parker Middleton, a friend of Moore’s and senior director of external programs at Grady College, visited with him just last week in Washington, D.C. “He was such a mentor to all,” Middleton said. “He always reminded us of our higher purpose. He loved, with deeply dedicated service, our University, the state of Georgia and our country.”

Dana Todd (ABJ ’91), Tudor Vlad, Moore, Joseph Watson Jr., and a native of Moldova, spent time in Moldova in 2017 where they delivered a workshop for the Cox Center. (Photo: Joseph Watson, Jr.)

Tudor Vlad, director of the Cox Center, collaborated with Moore over the past several years: “As a Cox International Center Board member, Powell Moore used his extraordinary expertise and extensive contacts to support our unit globally, with a specialized focus in Washington, D.C., and in projects in Eastern and Central Europe. Powell traveled with us many times to represent and promote the University of Georgia and Grady College.”

In 2017, Moore traveled with a Cox Center delegation to Moldova in eastern Europe, helping to deliver a workshop on challenges and solutions of communications in public administration.

While a student at UGA, Moore served in the ROTC and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He was also inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa.

He spoke of his regard for Grady College, John Drewry, who was dean of Grady College at the time he was a student, and of its programs when he was inducted as a Grady Fellow in 2008: “The spirit of Henry Grady that was instilled at the John Drewry school has remained with me for half a century. This spirit led us to lift our sights beyond familiar horizons, to seek challenge, not comfort and to recognize that words can make a difference.”