A Tribute to Jack Zinman

Joan Marsh
May 17, 2019
AT&T Policy Statements

A Tribute to Jack Zinman

I write today to celebrate the life of a man we knew as a counselor and a colleague, a mentor and a friend and, ultimately, a brother.  For many of the years that I have had responsibility for AT&T’s regulatory interests in Washington DC, I had the great privilege of having Jack Zinman stand beside me as my lawyer and confidante, and I had a front row seat as he applied his substantial intellect, talents and determination to the host of regulatory challenges a company like ours routinely faces.

And a brilliant lawyer he was.  One of the best in the business — and recognized as such both inside the company and within the broader communications community.  There is nothing he liked better than picking through the threads of some arcane regulatory issue and poring over reams of FCC precedent to weave some complex regulatory question into a compelling policy narrative or pleading.

But for even more than his prodigious legal skills, Jack was beloved for his wit, his easy temperament and his charm. It has always been our practice to meet weekly over a brown bag lunch to discuss the pressing matters of the week, and it was not unusual for that meeting to devolve from a serious discussion of policy issues to sit-com worthy banter. Jack was a central character in that weekly show, quick with amusing observations or sarcastic comments.  And every Fall, he was even quicker to brag about a victory by a certain Philadelphia football team that shall not be named, insisting on continued rabid support for that team despite his geography and otherwise usual sound common sense.

Jack’s light shone brightly within the company so the day eventually came when he and Christine were asked to relocate to Atlanta so Jack could expand his knowledge of the business and take on a portfolio of new clients. That’s when I started my “Don’t take our Jack” campaign.  I somehow felt — selfishly I admit — that we had dibs on Jack and his legal talents and that he belonged to us.  My efforts, of course, were for naught as leadership chose to focus on Jack’s career development over my self-interested demands, and off he went to Atlanta to serve a new cadre of clients that, of course, came to respect and admire him as much as we did in DC.

This is my fondest memory of Jack.  About a year after he had moved to Atlanta, I ran into him at a company event in Dallas. We embraced and, as you might expect, immediately started talking and laughing and gossiping.  He was telling me about his new clients in Atlanta and I was sharing all the updates from DC.  At the event, for some unknown reason, there was a large cardboard cutout of our Chairman, Randall Stephenson.  And after a few glasses of wine, Jack and I decided we needed a picture with cardboard Randall. So, we positioned ourselves on either side of him, along with another colleague, and with our best red carpet poses (which were not very good) we got the snap.  Every time I see that photo, and I see my brother standing next to cardboard Randall with his wry grin and mischief in his eye, it makes my heart happy.

I don’t know what fates put a young law graduate from Villanova University on a path to our door, but we owe them a debt of gratitude.  We were all made better by Jack’s presence — we were better lawyers, better advocates and better people.  And we will be forever blessed by the gifts he so generously shared with us:  his brilliance, his friendship, his decency and his love.

In Jack’s memory, a fund has been established to support the education of his three children – Anna, Noah and Charlie – to whom he was devoted.   As you remember Jack, please consider a gift to the Zinman Children Educational Fund.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.