2003 Alexander Hamilton Medal Winner
Edward M. Block
Edward M. Block was Senior Vice President — Public Relations, Advertising and Employee Information for the AT&T Corporation for 12 years until his retirement in 1986. He was responsible for corporate communications during AT&T’s historic divestiture of the Bell telephone companies and its expansion into international markets. He also held the additional post of assistant to the chairman of the board from 1980 until his retirement and was a member of the Office of the Chairman.
While at AT&T, Block was a director of AT&T International and AT&T Information Systems. He established the AT&T Foundation and was its first chairman of the board and it was on his initiative that AT&T provided the funding ($10 million a year for five years) to establish the MacNiel-Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. He was a director of C&P Telephone Company and a director of Electronic Associates, Inc. (NYSE), a New Jersey based maker of simulation computers for defense and aerospace applications. He was also a director of NCR Corporation. He was President of the American Council for the Arts, a director of the National Arts Stabilization Fund and a trustee of the Joint Council on Economic Education. He was a member of the Public Information Committee of the Business Roundtable. He also served very briefly in the White House in the early days of the administration of President Gerald Ford.
Block twice received the Blue Ribbon Award of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and, in 1980, he was chosen Public Relations Professional of the Year by PR News. In 1993, he received the lifetime achievement award from Inside PR and, also, the Hall of Fame Award of the Arthur W, Page Society. In 1997, he received the Gold Anvil, the highest recognition conferred by the 18,000 member Public Relations Society of America. Most recently, he was cited by PR Week as one of the 100 most influential public relations people of the 20th century.
In addition to his career with AT&T and the Bell companies, Block has been a newspaper reporter, a radio news producer and a creative director with a major advertising agency. While with Southwestern Bell, his civic activities included terms as Alderman and Deputy Mayor of Des Peres, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
From 1988 until 1996, he was President of the Block, Macdonald Group, Inc., consultants to a number of multi-national corporations. For many years he has been a regular lecturer at the University of Texas, Johns Hopkins University, the Sloan School of Business at MIT and Florida International University. He is also associated with the Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He is a Program Chairman of the San Francisco Academy, a management development program supported by major corporations, mainly based on the West Coast.
Mr. Block and his wife, Shirley, have owned a home in Key West since 1970 and have been permanent residents since his retirement from AT&T. He is a member of the board of directors as well as the executive committee of the Greater Miami and Florida Keys Chapter of the American Red Cross. He is the founding chairman of the board of the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys and remains a Special Advisor to the board. He is treasurer of the Key West Literary Seminar and a member of the board of the Performing Arts Centers for Key West, an organization created to sustain the Tennessee Williams Theatre. He is a member and past vice president of the Navy League and, most recently, he helped lead a citizens committee to create an inspiring military memorial on the harbor in Key West. He is a past member of the Board of The Friends of the Library. He chaired an Economic Development Committee established by the City Commission in 1994. He also led a successful effort to retain the Naval Air Station in Key West when the base was threatened with closure. He was also operations director of the Commission to plan the Centennial of the Spanish American War. He also chaired the Monroe County Telecommunications Authority for four years. Currently, he is a member of the editorial board of Key West’s daily newspaper, The Citizen, where he writes the lead editorials on local issues.
Block attended the University of Notre Dame and Dartmouth College. He earned his journalism degree at St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas, where he also received an honorary doctorate. He was born in Houston, Texas, where he married the former Shirley Ross Young. They have three sons. Mark is a film and television editor in New York City. Stephen is a long time corporate advertising executive who recently established his own firm specializing in new product introductions. Stuart is a partner in McClain & Co., a CPA firm in Miami. Ed and Shirley now have eight grand children.