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WFAE expands senior leadership team

WFAE executives Howell Handy Turner Bailey
Penda Howell (left), Doug Handy and Debra Turner Bailey

Debra Turner Bailey, Douglas Handy and Penda Howell have joined WFAE as chief people officer, chief financial officer and chief revenue officer, respectively. The positions focus on employee engagement, finance and new revenue streams. Turner Bailey’s and Howell’s positions are new to WFAE.

These hirings are a result of WFAE’s commitment to be a healthy, financially stable and competitive workplace.

In the last seven years, WFAE’s local newsroom has grown from 16 to 25 reporters, producers and editors. Over the same time, WFAE’s fundraising has increased to from $4.8 million to $8.1 million. For WFAE to continue to grow, it will need to look for other revenue opportunities as well as attract and retain talented employees.

“I am incredibly excited to have Debra, Doug and Penda join our senior team,” said Joe O’Connor, WFAE president and CEO. “Each of them brings skills and talents that will contribute significantly to WFAE’s short- and long-term success.”

Debra Turner Bailey

As chief people officer, Turner Bailey manages policies regarding employment, compensation, and diversity, equity and inclusion. She previously served on WFAE’s board of directors.

Turner Bailey spent more than 20 years with Corning Inc., where she worked in human resources and served as global diversity officer. Since 2013, she has worked as a consultant and trainer in the areas of leadership development and diversity and inclusion.

Turner Bailey is on the boards of Children’s Homes of Iredell County, Speak Life and Live, Circle of Giving and the Statesville branch of the NAACP. She has degrees from UNC Greensboro and Cornell University.

Douglas Handy

In his role as CFO, Handy handles the station’s annual budget, investment management and regulatory compliance. He joined WFAE as a temporary, interim CFO in September 2021 before becoming a permanent full-time employee.

Prior to WFAE, Handy worked at Magic One LLC, an automotive reconditioning company. He supervised the company’s strategic planning, financial analysis and business technologies. Handy also spent 20 years at Sales Performance International as CFO/Controller.

Handy is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

Penda Howell

As chief revenue officer, Howell builds plans for the acquisition of new businesses, asset sales or format expansion.

Howell’s hiring is a result of a grant from the American Journalism Project, a venture philanthropy organization. The grant is supporting key positions that raise money outside of “traditional” public media fundraising. WFAE was one of AJP’s first investments in public media.

Before joining WFAE, Howell worked at LION Publishers, a professional journalism association for independent news publishers, as news revenue coach and strategic adviser. Howell coordinated revenue strategies for LION Publishers and its members.

Howell spent 17 years at New York Amsterdam News as vice president of advertising, sales and partnerships. He also held roles in sales management, business development and advertising at the North Jersey Media Group.

In 2021, Howell was named Revenue and Strategy Innovator of the Year by the Local Media Association. He recently completed the 2021 Media Transformation Challenge, a yearlong program for media executives sponsored by the Poynter Institute.