Powers is the creator and current leader of two local watchdog organizations in northern New Jersey that promote transparency and integrity of local governments: Bergen Grassroots, Inc. (county) and Teaneck Transparency Trust (municipal). For 50 years he taught professional and social ethics as a professor at Yale, Princeton, Harvard and Vanderbilt Universities, the Robert Wood Johnson (now Rutgers) Medical School and Haverford College.
He is the only RWJ Med School professor ever recommended to that faculty by a sitting justice of the US Supreme Court (Breyer). At Yale he designed 3 dual-professional degree programs among its law, public health and divinity schools. In the late 70’s, he was Vice-President for Public Policy and chief environmental officer at Cummins Engine Company. Beginning in 1980 he created and served as first CEO of five different public-private academically-based interdisciplinary institutions addressing environmental research and public health issues.
Two of those institutions remain the pre-eminent institutions in their fields: The Health Effects Institute became and remains the world’s leading center for research on the health effects of automotive emissions and the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation now coordinates [from Vanderbilt University at 10 leading research institutions throughout the Country] the evaluation and communication of the risks of remediation and of both current and proposed future disposition of nuclear waste. From 1993 to 2000, he designed the program for and then tracked the EPA’s 300 Brownfields pilots (local, county, state and non-profit) programs which together are said to have become the basis for the Brownfields amendments to the federal Superfund law in 2003.
Powers is the author or co-author of hundreds of articles in peer reviewed journals in diverse fields and co-author of The Ethical Investor, a book whose specific guidelines for university social investment policy were adopted by – and remain 48 years later – Yale’s social investment policy. He was the first chair of the Yale Corporation’s social investment committee. Powers has a BA from Haverford College, a diploma from Oxford University, a M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary and both a MPhil and PhD. from Yale.