American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall told me during a visit to the Gainesville area in early April that he doesn’t always agree with his chief communicator. And that’s partly why she’s so valuable to him.
When Duvall became president two years ago, he hired Terri Moore as his vice president for communications because she had the credentials: Real-world journalism experience in Nebraska and then work for Gov. Mike Johanns, who brought her to DC when he became George W. Bush’s secretary of agriculture.
Duvall now jokes that some of his discussions with Moore are so heated that an outside observer might believe he was “fixin’ to fire her!” That’s never come close to happening, he said, and in fact, Moore’s dissent helps him develop a more complete perspective on the many issues he faces as leader of the nation’s largest general farm organization.
The other thing Duvall said about Moore that struck me was his praise for her professionalism. She’s tough to get to know personally, he said, because she rarely reveals a personal opinion. Instead, she counsels him with facts, pros and cons of choices, and optics on issues.
Duvall brought Moore with him on a farm visit in Levy County, where he was recording (along with UF/IFAS leader Scott Angle) an interview on agricultural sustainability for a national PBS television program. Moore secured the film crew, provided scripts, coached interviewees, and asked for retakes to refine the message.
Straight talk, professionalism and confident oversight of messaging opportunities. Moore impressed. As an ag communicator myself, I admired the skill with which Moore did her job during her visit.
As an active member of ACF, I was gratified to see her lifting our profession by excelling in her role. To have leaders such as the AFBF president recognize his chief communicator as such an important and trusted adviser is a tremendous demonstration of the impact we can all make on our organizations.