Colleagues and Friends Pay Tribute to Jonathan Moore

March 10, 2017
By Doug Gavel

Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) is saddened by the passing of our dear friend and colleague Jonathan Moore.

Moore was an important figure in the history of HKS, serving in the first class of fellows at the Institute of Politics (IOP), and later as director of the IOP from 1974 to 1986. Under his leadership the Institute expanded its academic and research programs, and broadened its engagement with the press.  But Moore and others soon recognized that the topic of the media and its role in the political sphere was too important to be adequately addressed as a subsidiary part of the Institute.  So in 1980 Moore drafted a proposal for a Harvard center on the press, politics, and public policy. His vision, along with his fundraising prowess, resulted in the founding in 1985 of the Shorenstein Center, named in honor of former CBS News producer Joan Shorenstein Barone. 

Over the years Moore remained very active in the life of the Shorenstein Center, serving on its Advisory Board, as an advisor to all of the center directors, and as an associate at the center beginning in 1995.

“When I came to Cambridge to help start up the Shorenstein Center, no one was more helpful than Jonathan in providing the background story of the Center's founding.  He was my history course.  I was therefore thrilled to see Jonathan in his office at the Center, a place I could always stop by for a chat or a special insight into Harvard, the Kennedy School or the Center,” said Marvin Kalb, the founding director of the Shorenstein Center. “Jonathan was a rare bird, so special, a man of exceptional dignity, honesty, and compassion.”

Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, remembers Moore for his generosity toward others. 

“If a few words could describe why Jonathan was so beloved by everyone at the Shorenstein Center, it would be these two—‘he cared,’” said Patterson. “In 2008, one of our former fellows, Alexis Sinduhije, was jailed in Burundi for opposing the regime. Jonathan, who was Ambassador at Large for Refugee Affairs in the 1980s, dropped everything to spend hours and days on the phone working to secure Alexis’ release. He helped prod the U.S. Embassy in Burundi, Amnesty International and who knows how many others to come to Alexis’ defense. And he didn’t stop until Alexis was out of prison. That was our Jonathan.”

“I had the privilege of working with Jonathan for many years and he was also my across-the-hall office mate. He had a notable career in government and at Harvard, but what drew me to Jonathan was his irreverent sense of humor, his curiosity, and that he was so wise,” said Nancy Palmer, the executive director of the Shorenstein Center.

Former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, who taught at HKS from 2000 to 2011, recounts the story of when she was a young intern in the early 1990s at the Carnegie Endowment, where Moore took her under his wing. “One night when I was digging into the atrocities in Bosnia, Moore, who was a Senior Associate at that time, stuck his head into my office and said, ‘do you think what’s happening there is a result of the absence of good or the presence of evil?’ I was blown away by that, and it began a 25-year friendship with him and his wife.” Power went on to say that Moore was a “master of relationships because of the way he connected with people.”

Moore graduated from Dartmouth College in 1954 and received an MPA from Harvard in 1957. He had a distinguished career in government, beginning as public affairs assistant for USIA in Bombay and Monrovia, eventually becoming U.S. Coordinator and Ambassador-at-Large for Refugee Affairs.  He wrote essays and books, including Hard Choices: Moral Dilemmas in Humanitarian Invention, was a sailor and a poet, helped establish the Cape Cod National Seashore Park, and worked for numerous Republican officeholders including George Romney, Eliot Richardson, Leverett Saltonstall, and Nelson Rockefeller.

"We remember Jonathan with joy for his leadership, his scholarship, his kindness, his vision and devotion to the students, friends and family of the Institute of Politics," said Maggie Williams, Director of the Institute of Politics.

“I met Jonathan when I arrived at HKS in 1999 as a staff assistant at the Shorenstein Center. Little did I know that the center was his idea. Nor did I know at that time what an important figure he was in the formation of the modern Kennedy School and the Institute of Politics,” said Eric Andersen, director of the IOP Fellows program.  “He was a mentor and then he became one of my best friends.  Jonathan had the mind of a poet, the heart of a humanitarian, and he had so much compassion. He could be feisty but only in the cause of peace and justice." 

Later in his life, Moore still continued to travel to countries like Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Somalia. “You can’t learn everything you need to know about these places from Harvard,” he told HKS Magazine in 2011. “You’ve got to get out to the field.” 

Survivors include Jonathan’s wife Katie, four children, grandchildren, and innumerable friends and admirers around the world.

Jonathan Moore in the IOP Forum

The Institute of Politics is saddened by the passing of our dear friend Jonathan Moore. Jonathan held many roles at the IOP, serving as director from 1974 to 1986, as well as serving in the first class of IOP Fellows after the Institute's founding 51 years ago.

Portrait of Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore received an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School in 1957, and was an early architect and Advisory Board member of the Shorenstein Center.


John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-495-1100 Get Directions Visit Contact Page