Huffington Post Editor Howard Fineman and Communications Strategist Desiree Peterkin Bell to Teach Annenberg Undergraduates This Spring

As a complement to its expert faculty members, the Annenberg School invites notable practitioners of Communication to offer undergraduate courses in their areas of expertise. This Spring, Annenberg is welcoming two new lecturers to its roster: Howard Fineman, The Huffington Post’s Global Editorial Director and a longtime news analyst for NBC and MSNBC, and Desiree Peterkin Bell, an accomplished communication strategist who served in the administrations of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

Howard Fineman, whose recent Huffington Post columns can be read here, is the author of the best-selling political history book The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country. Prior to joining The Huffington Post in 2010, Fineman was chief political correspondent, senior editor, and deputy Washington Bureau chief for Newsweek. He has interviewed every president and major presidential candidate since 1988, as well as numerous other figures in business and entertainment.

As an analyst for NBC and MSNBC, Fineman has frequently appeared on programs such as The Rachel Maddow Show, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, and Hardball with Chris Matthews.

In 2008, Fineman, who has lectured at dozens of universities, gave a book talk at Annenberg about his book The Thirteen American Arguments. Two years later, he returned to give a series of three lectures at Annenberg on technology and its impact on politics and political reporting.

This Spring, Fineman will teach a timely course at Annenberg, COMM 217: Media in the 2016 Election. The course is built around the premise that every era-defining president and presidential candidate succeeds by being the first to master new forms of journalistic communication. From Abe Lincoln and the telegraph, FDR and the radio, and recent social news platforms that have propelled Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton, the course will study these media waves and the role of the modern press in our democracy with the help of guest lecturers from newspapers, TV, video, and social media.

Desiree Peterkin Bell is the President and CEO of DPBell & Associates, a boutique public affairs firm with national and international clients. Her website describes her as a strategist, brand builder, and problem solver.

She has been named to “40 under 40” lists by PR Week and the Philadelphia Business Journal, and named one of Philadelphia’s most influential African-American women by the Philadelphia Tribune.

Between 2010 and 2016, Peterkin Bell served as the Director of Communications and Strategy for the City of Philadelphia and later as City Representative doing communications and strategy for Mayor Michael Nutter.

In this role, she dramatically increased the city’s social media engagement, led crisis communicatons and created public private partnerships through Big Events. Previously, while working for Mayor Cory Booker in Newark she redefined the communications paradigm and help build a brand for the Mayor and the City of Newark. 

Prior to these position, Peterkin Bell was VP of Government Affairs for New York City Marketing Development Corporation, Supervising Legislative Representative for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Special Assistant to Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson. She currently serves on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs.

This experience gives her a unique vantage to teach COMM 209: Urban Communication, a course which looks at how cities and their leadership communicate with the public. Despite optimism about the future of American cities, most grapple with the devastating effects of 20th century deindustrialization as well as racial disparities in education, income, housing, and health. Communicating with ordinary citizens in an age of social media and 24/7 cable news presents new challenges to municipal leaders, particularly in times of crisis. Peterkin Bell will address and discuss topics like "Fake News", the Black Lives Matter Movement in Cities and Crisis Communications.

Annenberg is pleased to welcome both Howard Fineman and Desiree Peterkin Bell!