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Fortune editor to talk city development in Allentown

By , - Last modified: February 10, 2014 at 11:04 AM

An Allentown native and top editor at Fortune magazine will return Wednesday to interview key players about the re-emergence of cities as powerful drivers of economic development.

Pattie Sellers, senior editor at large for Fortune magazine and executive director of Live Content, Time Inc., will interview Leigh Gallagher, assistant managing editor at Fortune and author of "The End of the Suburbs," and J.B. Reilly, CEO of City Center Investment Corp. of Allentown.

They will be part of the panel "Where is the American Dream Moving?" at Miller Symphony Hall, 4-5 p.m. in the Rodale Room, 223 N. Sixth St., Allentown.

"The premise of the book is that cities are getting an increasing amount of the investment dollars," Sellers said. "It very much reflects what's happening in Allentown."

Sellers will also moderate a panel with Reilly, Gallagher; Christopher Hager, chairman of Urban Land Institute of Philadelphia and senior principal and vice president at Langan Engineering, based in the Philadelphia office ; and Becky Bradley, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

Sellers spoke highly about City Center's ongoing economic development project in Downtown Allentown, which includes several office, retail, hotel and residential uses.

Sellers said Reilly's wife, Kathleen, is one of her best friends since high school.

"I have known about this project since before it was public," Sellers said. "Allentown is very dear to my heart. I had very serious ties there."

She was born in the city, grew up in the West End of Allentown and graduated from Allentown Central Catholic High School in 1978.


Sellers lives in Manhattan, where she has worked at Fortune magazine for 30 years. During that time, she has carved out a niche reporting on issues of power and interviewing many high-profile female executives.

With men, power often is generally synonymous with success and rank, but for women, it tends to be broader, focusing on the influence they have over others, she said.

Some of her most memorable interviews include Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Melinda Gates and Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. Sellers remembered Mayer calling her post-interview to break the news that she was pregnant at the time she was named CEO, and allowing the reporter to break the news.

Sellers has made many connections doing numerous profile pieces over the years, but sometimes it takes years for executives, including Winfrey and Stewart, to agree to an interview.

Sellers wrote to Stewart while Stewart was still in prison and landed an interview in fall 2005.

"It was the very first time she talked in any detail about her experiences in prison," Sellers said. "I like writing about women; they tend to think more broadly about their lives and careers."

In 1998, The Most Powerful Women in Business list began at Fortune and has since extended into a multimedia brand that includes live events.


As executive director of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, Sellers has worked to connect other women executives through an annual conference she began in 1999 that attracts about 400 women and one man, Warren Buffett.

This year, she is starting The Most Powerful Women Next Generation conference in San Francisco to help guide and inspire future leaders.

She believes in helping "pay it forward" through other initiatives, including the Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership.

For the global partnership, Fortune selects 25 rising star women from developing countries around the world who visit the U.S. to shadow women in top positions at large corporations, including IBM, Coca-Cola and Google, Sellers said.

Making connections and paying it forward helps pave the way for success, she said.

"It's the route to success, today more than it ever has been," Sellers said.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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