Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stanley Zuckerman, a personal tribute

Joe Johnson,; see also.

Zuckerman image from

We lost a public diplomacy icon when Stanley A. Zuckerman passed away on June 7.  He had been out of the game for twenty years, but during his Foreign Service career, Stan left a deep impression on both the U.S. Information Agency and the Department of State.
Stan drafted me as his assistant when he took up the position of Coordinator for Foreign Information Policy, a new spot on the staff of the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs – State’s top official overseeing nearly 200 embassies and consulates around the world.  The idea, promoted by Deputy Secretary Larry Eagleburger, was to persuade senior diplomats to do more appearances aimed at foreign audiences in an era when that was not considered a core diplomatic function.
Stan joked that one of his mentors had warned him never to accept a position called “coordinator.”   We had some success, but we represented an idea about eight years before its time.  (The U.S. Information Agency was moved entirely to State in 1999 by Act of Congress.)
Watching Stan charm, cajole and maneuver massive egos of the Department’s sixth and seventh floors gave about ten years of experience in the year and a half we served together there.  Working from a second-floor office that had belonged to the legendary Bob Strauss, Stan roamed the building recruiting talent, living up to his image as a television mogul.  He was, I’m pretty sure, the last person at the Harry S. Truman Building who routinely enjoyed a cigar in his office.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Stan began his career as a journalist for The Columbus Enquirer in Columbus, Georgia and for The Milwaukee Journal.  By the time he joined the Foreign Service, Stan had also served as the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Wisconsin. He dedicated 28 years to public diplomacy, retiring at the rank of Career Minister after service in the Belgium Congo, Belgium, Korea, Mexico, Canada and Brazil as well as Washington. He received both the Presidential Meritorious Service Award and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy.
After his Foreign Service Career, Stan started Lives and Legacies Films, which produced a series of First Person Singular PBS specials. These films documented the lives of Architect I. M. Pei, Historian John Hope Franklin, author and human rights activist Elie Wiesel, and CBS Broadcaster Charles Kuralt.
To me, Stan was a role model for his sense of humor, generosity, caring, intellect, and creativity. At Stan’s memorial service at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA , I encountered many former colleagues, all paying tribute to one of the giants of Twentieth Century U.S. public diplomacy.

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