Family, friends gather to celebrate ongoing legacy of Zell Miller

Miller Legacy Dinner honors former Gov. Zell Miller

ATLANTA — Friends and former colleagues are celebrating the ongoing legacy of former Georgia governor and U.S. Sen. Zell Miller.

Miller’s grandson, Bryan Miller, is the executive director of the newly created “Miller Institute for Public Policy,” which will work toward bi-partisan solutions to state issues.

The institute hosted the Miller Legacy Dinner Tuesday night at the Georgia World Congress Center.

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WSB-TV partnered with organizers to capture the night’s tributes for inclusion in a prime-time special later this year on the Miller legacy, which includes the lottery-funded Hope Scholarship and pre-K programs.

The 25th anniversary of the Georgia Lottery, which funds both programs, coincides with Miller’s 85th birthday.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton sent videotaped birthday greetings and praised Miller for his lifetime of public service including the idea to create a statewide lottery exclusively to fund education.

The evening’s speakers included Hope Scholar Jennifer Abrams, who said HOPE provides the path to an education for thousands of Georgia students who would not otherwise have the opportunity.

She praised Miller’s vision and said HOPE has personally made it possible for her to pursue three internships and a fifth year of study at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Lottery president and CEO Debbie Alford said the lottery has transferred more than $18 billion to Georgia students over the last 25 years.

The money has funded 1.7 million Hope scholarships and 1.4 million pre-K students.

Noted political strategist Paul Begala, who worked on Miller’s 1990 gubernatorial campaign along with James Carville, said the Georgia leader “changed his life” and has always demonstrated a resolve to work with political allies and foes to get things done.

The Miller Institute presented the first “Zell Miller Award for Distinguished Public Service” Tuesday night to former University chancellor Hank Huckaby.