Desiree Peterkin Bell is a strategic planner, brand strategist, consummate communicator and political strategist with more than 15 years of experience. Honored as one of the industry’s best and brightest in the country by PR Week’s “40 under 40, “a ‘Shorty Award’ winner; recognized by the Philadelphia Tribune as a “One of Philadelphia’s Most Influential African-American Women”; and by Philadelphia Business Journal as a “40 under 40” recipient, Desiree strives to identify, create and leverage traditional and nontraditional media and navigate federal, state and municipal government. She has most recently served in two appointed positions for the City of Philadelphia and for former Mayor Michael A. Nutter: Director of Communications and Strategy and City Representative.
As Director of Communications she was responsible creating and leading local, regional, national and international traditional and non-traditional media strategies for the City of Philadelphia and Mayor Michael A. Nutter. She crafted the first-ever social media policy for the City of Philadelphia and built an award winning online presence for the City.
As City Representative, Desiree served as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the country’s largest Fourth of July celebration, the multi-day, citywide, Wawa Welcome America! festival produced under the auspices of Wawa Welcome America, Inc. The event has been aired nationally over cable network VH1 and regionally via the Philadelphia region’s leading broadcast outlet, 6ABC. She served as the only Female African American Race Director in the country for the City’s award-winning GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Race Weekend events, including the USTAF-sanctioned Full Marathon, the Half Marathon, Rothman Institute 8K, Kids Fun Run and the companion Health & Fitness Expo. Desiree also served as Executive Producer of The Philadelphia Collection, a week-long series of fashion and style related events that served as the City’s primary marketing campaign supporting Philadelphia’s fashion design and retailing industries and its leading institutions of fashion education.
Additionally, she served as a lead in drafting and negotiating the successful bid for Philadelphia to host the Democratic National Convention to take place in July 2016. Desiree also lead the strategic communications for the City of Philadelphia, in the execution and production of Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival, Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit and the hosting of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia – potentially largest event ever hosted by a North American city.
Prior to assuming the dual Administration posts, she served as Senior Advisor for Communications for Obama for America – Pennsylvania, leading the development and execution of a statewide communications strategy in all seven media markets. The campaign earned positive media coverage via pro-active and rapid response press events, paid ads, and public events supporting President Barack Obama’s successful reelection efforts in the “must-win” battleground state, Pennsylvania.
From 2006 to fall of 2010, Desiree served as the Director of Communications for Mayor Cory A. Booker in Newark, New Jersey, where she was the youngest senior official appointed in the Administration. As the Director of Communications for the City of Newark, Desiree built an award-winning twenty-first century, multi-platform communications network for Newark where one did not previously exist. In 2009, the New Jersey League of Municipalities recognized her leadership and named the city’s Office of Communications as the ‘Best City Office of Communications in New Jersey’.
Prior to joining Mayor Booker’s team, Desiree served in the administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as Vice President of Government Affairs for the city’s marketing development corporation, NYC Marketing. Desiree developed and implemented strategies and platforms to secure multimillion dollar partnerships and sponsorships for the city with General Motors, Universal Studios, Country Music Awards, The Latin Grammy’s, and negotiated media barters with cities including London, Amsterdam, and Dusseldorf, Germany.
Desiree had previously served as the Supervising Legislative Representative for the Bloomberg Administration representing and lobbying matters before the 51-member city council. While in this role, she shepherded three historic pieces of legislation through to final passage and public law: the New York City Smoke Free Air Act of 2002, Tort Reform and the Film Tax Credit.
After a brief stint in Washington, D.C., working on a range of public policy issues, the National Urban Fellows Program awarded Desiree a full scholarship toward a Master’s in Public Administration. As a National Urban Fellow, Desiree was selected by Mayor Bart Peterson, Indianapolis, Indiana, to serve in his administration addressing community engagement, economic development, education, strategic governance, and affordable housing issues.
A special part of her vocation includes mentoring minority students. She is a founding member of the Simmons Memorial Foundation, a non-profit that supports students in their efforts to achieve their education and self-reliance goals. She focuses on students whose backgrounds, similar to her own, are modest; encouraging them to break through boundaries and barriers to determine the path toward their goals.
Desiree Peterkin Bell is an alumna of the A Better Chance program and a graduate of Swarthmore College where she majored in Political Science and Education and received the Dean’s Award for outstanding academic achievement and exemplary community service. In addition, she excelled in athletics as a five-time National Collegiate Athletic Association All-American in track and field.
Desiree lives in Philadelphia with her husband Brian and her seven year old daughter is an avid gymnast.