France Griggs Sloat
Michael F. Ford
Bachelor of Arts, political science, 1970 | President of Bay Communications, a communications and strategic consulting company, Glyndon, Md.
Sowing Seeds | Ford’s interest in politics was spawned during his years at Xavier in the late 1960s when the Vietnam War became a lightning rod for all manner of social issues including civil rights and women’s liberation.
Freedom | “It was the war that was a generational attraction to get involved. What Xavier did was give me a lot of latitude and support. When I was a junior, I missed a final exam and the professor asked me why. I said I had to testify before Congress. He said, ‘In that case, OK.’ They encouraged involvement, and the freedom they gave me allowed me to learn this was something I was good at.”
Degree of Success | He went on to earn a master’s degree in government from another Jesuit institution, Georgetown University.
Name Dropper | In his 35 years as a political consultant, Ford’s worked with a virtual list of who’s who in the world of Democratic politics. He’s also been an analyst on “The Today Show” and “Larry King Live” and political consultant for the film of Stephen King’s “Dead Zone.”
Most Impactful | In 1980, Ford ran Ted Kennedy’s primary campaign against Jimmy Carter. They lost, but that experience set him up for everything he’s done since.
Most Difficult | Walter Mondale vs. Ronald Reagan. It brought out the frustrations of the Democratic party. He was blamed for the loss. The party’s problems were the same as today, he says. “We have a to-do list, not a vision.”
In the Beginning | He started Bay Communications in 1984. One of his first clients was John Waihee, whom he helped become the first native Islander elected governor of the state of Hawaii.
Other Clients | The N.B.A. Players Association hired him to boost their public image and bargaining position during the 1998 strike.
The Business Side | Ford was one of two partners who challenged famed investor Warren Buffett and created “Class B” shares of Berkshire Hathaway Corp. stock for small investors. The move created $250 units of the stock, which was trading at $30,000 a share at the time. His effort was featured in Newsweek magazine.
Steady Stimulant | Ford fuels his busy schedule by reading more and sleeping less. He’s typically awake until 3:00 a.m. and up at 6:00 a.m., though he admits to stealing catnaps in the afternoons. His reading list: The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal daily plus novels on his favorite topics—politics, history and current events. “I need it to stimulate me to write.”