Wendell Potter has served since May 2009 as CMD's Senior Fellow on Health Care. After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, last year he left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers to try his hand at helping socially responsible organizations -- including those advocating for meaningful health care reform -- achieve their goals.
Based in Philadelphia, Wendell now provides strategic communications counsel and planning services as an independent consultant. He also speaks out on both the need for a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system and on the dangers to American democracy and society of the decline of the media as watchdog, which has contributed to the growing and increasingly unchecked influence of corporate PR.
Before his big switch, Wendell held a variety of positions at CIGNA Corporation over 15 years, serving most recently as head of corporate communications and as the company's chief corporate spokesman.
Prior to joining CIGNA, Wendell headed communications at Humana Inc., another large for-profit health insurer. Before that he was director of public relations and advertising for The Baptist Health System of East Tennessee. He also has been a partner in an Atlanta public relations firm, a press secretary to a Democratic nominee for governor of Tennessee and as a lobbyist in Washington for the organizers of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tenn. He also served as a member of the public relations and international marketing team for the Fair and traveled to Europe, Africa and South America on country recruitment missions.
Wendell also was a journalist. His first job after college was as a reporter for Scripps-Howard's afternoon paper in Memphis. He wrote about Memphis businesses and local government before being sent to Nashville to cover the governor's office and state legislature. Two years later he was promoted to the Scripps-Howard News Bureau in Washington where he covered Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court and wrote a weekly political column.
Wendell is a native of Tennessee and a graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he received a B.A. degree in communications and did postgraduate work in journalism and public relations. He holds an APR, which means he is accredited in public relations by the Public Relations Society of America, and is still a proud dues-paying member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Press Club in Washington.