Heather C. McGhee in conversation with Bill Moyers

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Location Hall of Philosophy

Gate pass required. Purchase at our Main Gate Welcome Center, (716) 357-6250

Heather C. McGhee, former president of Demos, is now a Distinguished Senior Fellow there.  She joined Demos in 2002, serving as its president from 2014 through June, 2018.  A recognized thought leader on the national stage, McGhee, now as a Distinguished Senior Fellow, continues to advance the vision of an equal say and an equal chance through her writing, public speaking and media appearances.

McGhee is writing a major book to be published in 2019 about the personal, economic and societal costs of racism to everyone in America, including white people.  She serves as a contributor to NBC News, and frequently appears on shows such as Meet the Press.  Her opinions, writing, and research have appeared in numerous outlets, including The New York TimesThe Nation, and The Hill. She has received New York University’s McSilver Award for Leaders in the Fight against Poverty, and Citizen Action of New York’s Progressive Leadership Award.

Over the years, McGhee’s work has had a profound influence on public policies and issues.  Her efforts at Demos as both staff member and president have led to achievements that include: landmark consumer protections to rein in credit card abuses and save consumers over $50 billion in fees; critical contributions to policies that rewrote the rules for how financial institutions operate; billions in wage increases at large companies and for government contractors; four million low-income voters registered at DMVs and public agencies; and pro-democracy reforms, such as public campaign financing, same-day registration, and automatic voter registration, won in a dozen states and Washington, D.C.

McGhee currently serves on the boards of the Center for Working Families, Consumer Reports, and Indivisible. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

Bill Moyers has been recognized as one of the unique voices of our times.  His career in broadcast journalism has spanned five decades and earned him more than 36 Emmy Awards, nine Peabody Awards, six Alfred I. DuPont Columbia University Awards, the National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the PEN USA Courageous Advocacy Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the American Film Institute. 

He and his wife and creative partner, Judith Davidson Moyers, have been responsible for such acclaimed PBS series as Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth; On Our Own Terms-Moyers on Death and Dying; Close to Home—Moyers on Addiction and Recovery; America’s First River—the Story of the Hudson River; The Language of Life; Genesis: A Living Conversation; Faith & Reason; The Wisdom of Faith with Huston Smith; Amazing Grace; and, until their retirement in 2015, the weekly television series NOW with Bill Moyers (2002-2004), Bill Moyers Journal (2007-2010), and Moyers & Company (2013-2015).  Their award-winning investigative documentaries include The Secret Government—the Constitution in Crisis; Trade Secrets—A Moyers Report on Chemicals and Public Health; Capitol Crimes – Net at Risk – Whose Internet is It?; Buying the War: How the Press Enabled the Invasion of Iraq; Pesticides in Our Children’s Food; Two American Families: Our Struggling Middle Class; and Free Speech for Sale—How Money is Changing Politics.

Most recently the Moyers team received the Robert F. Kennedy Humanitarian Award for their documentary reporting on the culture of cruelty in New York City’s largest and most notorious jail, Rikers, as well as the Cannes Festival Award for Diversity.

Bill Moyers graduated from the University of Texas, studied at New College Divinity School at the University of Edinburgh, and received his Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas.  Before beginning his prolific career with public television he worked as liaison in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, became a founding organizer of the Peace Corps and its first deputy director, and served as Special Assistant for domestic policy to President Lyndon B. Johnson and then White House Press Secretary before resigning to become publisher of New York’s Newsday.  He was also Senior Correspondent for the CBS documentary series CBS Reports founded by Edward R. Murrow, and for five years was senior news analyst of the CBS Evening News.  He is president of the Schumann Media Center, a non-profit organization for the support of independent journalism.

Judith Davidson Moyers served for l7 years as a trustee of the State University of New York, including five years as vice-chair of the board; a trustee of Hofstra University; a member of the White House Commission on Children; a delegate to the United States Commission to UNESCO, and an advisor to the Corporation for Entertainment and Learning, producer of the highly-acclaimed series Walk Through the Twentieth Century and Creativity.  She was the first woman to moderate executive seminars at the Aspen Institute for the Humanities.  In l987 she became president and executive producer of Public Affairs Television, the Moyers’s independent production company. The Moyers have three grown children and five grandchildren, and live in New York City.