Biography

JANET DEWART BELL is a communications strategist and management consultant with a multimedia background, as well as experience in policy advocacy, strategic planning, fund development, media training, and education. She is a social justice advocate, activist, executive coach, and motivational speaker, with a doctorate in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. She is the author of the forthcoming Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement, https://www.thenewpress.com/books/lighting-fires-of-freedom.


Among her accomplishments are an Emmy® for outstanding individual achievement (CBS-TV affiliate in Washington, DC) and programming for National Public Radio honored with a Peabody award, considered the highest award in broadcasting.


She has been a key strategist and senior executive at a number of national organizations, including The Opportunity Agenda, PolicyLink, the National Urban League, the National Committee on Household Employment, and National Public Radio (NPR). She was Director of Communications and Public Relations for District Council 37, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), in New York City. As a Visiting Research Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, she developed and taught a course on Effective Advocacy and co-taught a constitutional law course with her husband Professor Derrick Bell.


She developed and managed The Opportunity Agenda’s acclaimed Communications Institute, a four-day, intensive multi-media training for social justice advocates. As Director of Communications at PolicyLink, Bell was instrumental in developing the organization’s collaborative approach to advocacy and communications and developed the trademark “Lifting up what works.”® As Director of Communications at the National Urban League, she was the League’s chief communications strategist and editor of The State of Black America. As part of AFL-CIO delegations, she has taught trade unionists in Morocco and Tunisia. She was the Chairperson of the District of Columbia Commission for Women and represented the District at the International Conference of Women in Nairobi, Kenya.


Bell established the Derrick Bell Lecture Series on Race in American Society at the New York University School of Law, now in its twenty-third year. Along with other lead donors, she helped establish in 2012 the Derrick Bell Fund for Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Professor Bell’s alma mater, to honor his memory and legacy. See www.professorderrickbell.com. She has also endowed the Janet Dewart Bell scholarship at Baruch College, where she earned a Master’s.


Bell is the founder and president of LEAD Intergenerational Solutions, Inc. A nonprofit dedicated to developing intergenerational leadership as social change agents. She serves on the boards of Teaching Matters, CancerCare, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and the Women’s Media Center.


She is an ordained elder, serving at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, an intentionally inclusive and diverse Christian community, where all are welcome.