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Wendell Potter – Communicator and Advocate Honored

Wendell Potter received award from Dean WirthWendell Potter, a veteran journalist, public relations executive, author, and advocate for health care and insurance reform, received an Accomplished Alumni award yesterday.
The 1973 journalism graduate was honored by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with the award. The Accomplished Alumni program recognizes notable alumni.
Potter is a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity, an organization that produces investigative journalism on issues of public concern. He also is a senior fellow on health care for the Center for Media and Democracy, and serves as a consumer liaison representative for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Potter began his career as a reporter at the Memphis (Tenn.) Press-Scimitar, and eventually was promoted to the Scripps-Howard News Bureau in Washington, DC, where he covered the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court. Transitioning into public relations, Potter served as press secretary to a Tennessee gubernatorial candidate, headed advertising and public relations for an East Tennessee health care system, and was a partner in an Atlanta public relations firm.
He later headed the communications department for Humana Inc., and was then recruited to Cigna Corp., where he served in a variety of positions over 15 years, culminating in leading its corporate communications team and serving as chief corporate spokesperson.
Potter then left corporate communications to advocate for meaningful health care reform, testifying before a Congressional committee in 2009 on rising health care costs and writing a book on lobbying efforts by the health insurance industry to influence public opinion and public policy.
“I am thrilled to be back on campus and remember my time here and the mentors that had a profound impact on my life,” Potter said. “I am the person I am today because of my training, experiences, and mentors I had while attending the University of Tennessee.”
The award was presented by Communication and Information Dean Mike Wirth prior to Potter’s public talk on the value of higher education.
Potter joins a variety of outstanding alumni who have been featured through the Accomplished Alumni program, including CEOs of major corporations, Olympians, authors, lawyers, musicians, U.S. ambassadors and civic leaders.
To view other Accomplished Alumni, visit