Desiree Peterkin Bell currently serves the City of Philadelphia and the Administration of Mayor Michael Nutter in two appointed positions: Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships and City Representative.
As Mayor Nutter’s Director of Communications, she is responsible for consolidating the various communication platforms and resources available to Philadelphia City Government. She utilizes these 21st century tools to create and execute an integrated strategy to engage and educate citizens, as well as streamline communication with local, national and international media.
As City Representative, Desiree heads the City office designated as the marketing, public relations and branding arm of the City, actively engaged in the development, promotion and execution of events created to stimulate commerce, attract visitors and new residents, add leisure options and enhance the quality of life for citizens.
In executing this City-marketing mission, Desiree serves 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 is aired nationally over cable network VH1 and regionally via the Philadelphia region’s leading broadcast outlet, 6ABC. She also serves as Race Director 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.
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.
Desiree is a strategic planner, brand strategist, consummate communicator and political strategist. Honored as one of the industry’s best and brightest in PR Week’s “40 under 40, “ a ‘Shorty Award’ winner; recognized by the Philadelphia Tribune as a “Person to Watch” 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.
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, and 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.
Before joining the Bloomberg Administration, and 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 Desiree’s 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 makes her home on Philadelphia’s South Broad Street Avenue of the Arts where she resides with her husband, Brian, and their six year-old daughter, Kaelyn.