Gail Moaney wanted to be an art teacher who would encourage students to expand their appreciation of the visual world.
With an eye on her goal, the native New Yorker headed to Howard University to major in fine arts and minor in education.
But her career took a different turn, and three decades later the much-honored public relations executive does spend her days encouraging millions of Americans to expand their horizons in a different manner—world travel.
As executive vice president and director of Travel and Economic Development at Ruder Finn in New York, Moaney oversees communications programs for international tourism boards, airlines, hotels, and resorts. “I like promoting something that makes people smile,” she said.
When Moaney graduated from Howard in the early 1970s, the job market for teachers was tight. Instead she landed a secretarial job at NBC’s Washington, D.C., affiliate, WRC-TV.
She loved live television—“getting it right the first time, creating something visually interesting, and interacting with talent.” So over nearly nine years Moaney learned that knowing a business from the bottom up was exciting, and paid off. She rose through the ranks from secretary to assistant, associate, and finally producer. She also decided to solidify her hands-on experience with formal training at AU’s graduate program in broadcasting production and management. The school was perfectly located—across the street from the TV station.
After WRC Moaney was executive producer at a PBS station in Washington and one in Columbus, Ohio, and then served as chief of communications for the State of Ohio Department of Economic Development.
When her husband’s job took them back to New York, Moaney’s media and management experience was a perfect segue into public relations. She also finally realized her early dream of teaching. As an adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, she teaches a graduate course in global relations and intercultural communications.
Moaney has been honored by the Public Relations Society of America and won Emmy Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
In February, she was again tapped to serve her native city when she was invited to join the New York Urban League’s Board of Directors. There she will promote the organization’s programs—helping New Yorkers attain equal access to jobs, education, and a livable wage. It’s an honor she’s earned from the bottom up.