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Director Biographies

Directors 1977 - 1989

Manuel D. Plotkin Manuel D. Plotkin (1977-1979): Before President Jimmy Carter appointed him to be director of the Census Bureau, Manuel Plotkin was a longstanding executive at Sears, Roebuck, and Company, serving as corporate researcher and planner, chief economist, and marketing research manager between 1953 and 1977.

Born in Russia in 1923, Plotkin immigrated at age 3 with his family to the U.S., eventually settling in Chicago. He graduated from Northwestern University and received an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

Plotkin spent two years working as a price economist for the Chicago regional office of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and another year working in that bureau's office in Washington, DC as a survey coordinator. He has also taught economics at Northwestern and Indiana Universities. At the time of his appointment, Plotkin was a member of the Census Bureau Advisory Committee of the American Marketing Association.

After Plotkin resigned, his predecessor, Vincent Barabba stepped in to reassume his role as director and lead 1980 census efforts. Plotkin died in 2011.

Bruce Chapman Bruce Chapman (1981-1983): Bruce Chapman was born in 1940 in Evanston, IL. He went on to graduate with honors from Harvard University in 1962. His first career was as an author and journalist, helping to publish Advance, a political magazine, from 1960 until 1964, and co-authoring The Party that Lost its Head in 1966. He also spent a year writing editorials for the New York Herald Tribune.

In 1966, Chapman moved to the West Coast, settling in Seattle. There, he became involved in the Washington state political scene and eventually won a seat on the Seattle City Council in 1971. From there, he was appointed secretary of state of the State of Washington to finish an unexpired term. He was elected in 1975 and reelected to a full term beginning in 1977. In 1981, he ran in the Republican Party gubernatorial primary, coming in third. Later that year, President Reagan appointed him director of the Census Bureau.

After leaving the Census Bureau, Chapman served as deputy assistant to President Reagan from 1983 to 1985. At the same time, he was director of the White House Office of Planning and Evaluation. In 1985, Reagan appointed him ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna, Austria, where he served until 1988. Chapman is currently president of the Seattle-based Discover Institute, a public policy think tank that focuses on both domestic and international affairs, which he founded in 1990.

John G. KeaneJohn G. Keane (1984 - 1989): John Keane, a native of Indiana, brought his marketing and strategic planning experience to the Census Bureau. Before President Ronald Reagan appointed him director of the Census Bureau, he spent 27 years in the private sector in management and consulting positions for such companies as the United States Steel Corp.; Booz, Allen & Hamilton; and J. Walter Thompson. He was also president of Managing Change, Inc., a strategic counseling firm that he founded in 1972.

Keane earned an A.B. from Syracuse University in 1952, and a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame in 1955. He then went on to receive his M.B.A. from Indiana University before earning his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1965. After leaving the Census Bureau, Keane returned to his alma mater to become Dean of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. He is now a professor of strategic management and dean emeritus at that institution. Keane has participated in the Census Bureau's oral history program [PDF 259k].

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: January 05, 2022