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Jody Powell
Jody Powell and Jimmy Carter.gif
Press Secretary Jody Powell and President Jimmy Carter, February 10, 1977.
White House Press Secretary

In office
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Ron Nessen
Succeeded by James Brady
Personal details
Born Joseph Lester Powell, Jr.
September 30, 1943
Cordele, Georgia
Died September 14, 2009(2009-09-14) (aged 65)
Cambridge, Maryland
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Nan Sue Jared
Children Emily Boddy
Alma mater Georgia State University
Emory University

Joseph Lester "Jody" Powell, Jr. (September 30, 1943 – September 14, 2009) was the White House Press Secretary during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.[1] He later founded a public relations firm.

Life and careerEdit

Born in Cordele, Georgia,[2] Powell grew up on a farm in Vienna, 35 miles east of Carter's home town of Plains.[1]

He attended the United States Air Force Academy beginning in 1961, but was expelled three years later for cheating on a history exam.[1] He then enrolled at Georgia State University, finishing his bachelor's degree in 1966, and enrolling in a Ph.D. program in political science at Emory University.[1]

While at Emory in 1968, he sent a paper he had written on southern populism to Jimmy Carter, and began working for the future president, who at the time, was running for governor of Georgia.[citation needed] Powell's first job for Carter was as a volunteer gofer and driver, with Powell taking Carter to various campaign stops throughout Georgia.[1] Powell then became Carter's close friend and functionally served as his press secretary.[1] He eventually quit Emory mid-way in his studies to work full-time for Carter.[1]

During Carter's first presidential campaign in 1976, Powell was noted for his energy and for calling reporters from wayside pay telephones to make sure they got Carter's record straight.[1] In the run-up to the 1976 presidential election, ''Time'' magazine profiled Powell, anticipating that if Carter were elected, Powell would serve a "dual role as adviser and spokesman" and would become one of the most powerful White House press secretaries in history due to his close relationship with Carter.[1]

After Carter's 1976 election as president, Powell was described as a member of the "Georgia Mafia", a group of close aides from Georgia who moved to high positions in Carter's administration, but who were inexperienced in national politics.[3] Powell and Carter's chief of staff Hamilton Jordan appeared in 1977 as caricatures on the cover of Time in 1977[4] and were pictured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine where they were dubbed Carter's whiz kids.[5] Powell served as White House press secretary for Carter until 1981.

After leaving the White House, Powell lent his distinctive deep, drawling voice to two documentaries by Ken Burns, The Civil War (1990) (as General Stonewall Jackson) and Baseball (1994).[citation needed]

In 1985, he published a memoir, The Other Side of the Story, in which he discussed his leak to the Associated Press of the "rabbit incident", Carter's 1979 encounter with an enraged swamp rabbit, that "was intent on climbing into the Presidential boat".[6]

Powell and Sheila Tate, the former White House press secretary to Nancy Reagan, co-founded Powell Tate, a public relations firm based in Washington, DC, in 1991.[7] Powell served as CEO of the firm[5][7][8] until his sudden death on September 14, 2009, from a heart attack at his home on the Eastern Shore in Maryland.[5][8]

Powell was a member of the Board of Advisors for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.


Jody Powell and Hamilton Jordan - NARA - 174795

Powell with Hamilton Jordan on right

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "The Press: Carter's Mouth". TIME. 1976-08-02.,9171,914453,00.html?iid=chix-sphere. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  2. "Jody Powell". NNDB. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  3. "The Georgia Mafia". The American Experience: Jimmy Carter. PBS. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  4. "Cover: The President's Boys". TIME. 1997-06-06.,16641,19770606,00.html. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Tapper, Jake (2009-09-14). "RIP, Jody Powell". ABC News. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  6. "Jimmy Carter Finds Nemo in Florida". KTTV- Fox. 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "About us". Powell Tate - Strategic Communications. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Brian Montopoli (2009-09-14). "Jody Powell, Former W.H. Press Secretary, Dies". Political Hotsheet. CBS News. Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Ronald H. Nessen
White House Press Secretary
1977 – 1981
Succeeded by
James Brady

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