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University of Iowa News Release

 

Oct. 26, 2009

Healthcare reform advocate Wendell Potter to speak Nov. 4 at UI

potterAfter a 20-year career as a public relations insider at two major health insurance companies, Wendell Potter now speaks out against their practices and calls for a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system. Potter will bring his message to the University of Iowa at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union.

The University Lecture Committee is sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public. Potter, who has been called a whistleblower for speaking about against practices in his former industry, will give his view of the ongoing healthcare debate in Congress. Following Potter's presentation, several Iowa health care stakeholders will give their perspectives. Speakers will include Stacey Cyphert, assistant vice president for health policy at the University of Iowa; Dr. Cecilia Norris, director of the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic; and Daniel R. Kueter, CEO of UnitedHealthcare, Iowa and Central Illinois.

Potter has served since May 2009 as a senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy. Last year, after a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, he left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers, and now he helps organizations advocate for health care reform.

Based in Philadelphia, Potter provides strategic communications counsel and planning services as an independent consultant. Speaking about a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system, he testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in Washington, D.C., in June. He has also appeared on CNN, ABC News, Bill Moyers Journal, and in Time Magazine.

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 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.

Potter also was a journalist, working as a reporter for Scripps-Howard's afternoon paper in Memphis, Tenn. He later wrote for the Scripps-Howard News Bureau in Washington, D.C., where he covered Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court and wrote a weekly political column.

Potter is a native of Tennessee and a graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in communications and did postgraduate work in journalism and public relations.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: University Lecture Committee, 319-335-3407, lecture-committee@uiowa.edu; George McCrory, 319-384-0012, University News Services, , george-mccrory@uiowa.edu