Political Science/Journalism, 1979
Pam Bailey is currently the “chief storyteller” for NeighborWorks America, a congressionally mandated, Washington, DC-based nonprofit that has a mission of assuring affordable housing and healthy communities for all U.S. residents. The organization supports a network of more than 250 local nonprofits on the ground, while training more than 3,000 community-development professionals across the industry. It is Bailey’s job to tell the organization’s story, and those of the residents its serves, through a variety of platforms—from executive speeches to op-eds.
The Chicago native began her training at SIU-Carbondale with a double major in journalism and political science. One of her fondest memories of her years here was her concluding semester as editor-in-chief of The Daily Egyptian. Bailey went on to report for The Daily Herald, a chain of daily newspapers that covers the Chicago metro area, until she launched what would become a long tenure in health care public relations (along the way earning a master’s of science degree in marketing communications).
Bailey progressed from managing communications for a Chicago teaching hospital to directing public relations for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Wanting to work internationally, Bailey joined Searle Pharmaceuticals, then a subsidiary of Monsanto Corp., and led the communications launch of a “blockbuster” medication: Celebrex.
That success led to her being recruited away to a vice president of global pharmaceutical communications position at Johnson & Johnson, where she spearheaded PR for the launch of another blockbuster, Ambien. She repeated that success at Qiagen (formerly Digene), the global developer of the first test for HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer.
It was then, at the peak of her career that Bailey decided to re-focus on a mission-driven use of her talents, as well as to return to her roots in journalism. She spent the better part of 2009-2012 living and working in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, reporting and teaching youth how to use social media as citizen journalists.
Today, although she has returned to the United States, Bailey continues to use storytelling to empower disadvantaged youth. In addition to her work with NeighborWorks America, Bailey is the founder and international director for We Are Not Numbers, a project that links refugee youth in the Middle East with mentors around the world who help them shape and share their personal narratives.