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Advisory Board Member

Karen Hinton

Author of Penis Politics: A Memoir of Women, Men & Power

Karen Hinton

Mississippi native Karen Hinton has been a nationally-recognized media professional in Washington and New York. Best known for her role as press secretary to both former Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo and former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hinton played what Politico dubbed the “Helen of Troy role” in the clash between Cuomo, now the former Governor of New York, and De Blasio, now the former NYC Mayor. The New York Times called the clash “one of America’s ugliest political feuds.” The Wall Street Journal lauded “the wisdom she dispensed in a Southern twang” in dealing with the strutting and chest pounding of New York’s two most powerful leaders.

Hinton cut her teeth as the press secretary for the first Black Congressman from Mississippi since Reconstruction, Mike Espy, in 1986. The Democratic National Committee hired her in 1989, serving a similar role for Ron Brown, who was the first Black Chairman of the DNC and a key political strategist to elect Bill Clinton as President. In 1995, Hinton joined the Clinton Administration as press secretary for Cuomo at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. During that time, President Clinton began to face charges of womanizing (and worse). When Clinton’s defenders tried to dismiss the women as “trailer park trash” and “bimbos,” Hinton went public with her own story about Clinton asking for a night of sex when he was Governor of Arkansas and she was a young Democratic campaign aide in Mississippi. The revelation resulted in Hinton being eased out of her senior administration position, one of the events which sparked her interest in giving a name to “penis politics”. Hinton spent the next decade running a communications consulting business and helping to raise a daughter and three stepchildren.

In December 2021, Hinton published a book, called Penis Politics:  A  Memoir of Women, Men & Power chronicling her life and the lives of friends and foes. Book Trib, the leading literary source, described her memoir as “immensely readable, (sharing) stories of shame, sorrow, successes, surprises and egos. Touted as ‘a memoir of women, men and power,’ it is so much more.”

Earlier in her career, Hinton was a journalist at the Jackson Daily News in Mississippi and the Rocky Mountain News in Colorado, a cocktail waitress in Aspen and a high school teacher in Mississippi.

Forty-five years after she left Soso, Mississippi, Karen was ranked as one of the 50 most powerful people in New York public relations. While in New York, Hinton regularly contributed guest columns to the New York Daily News and other publications, focusing on the topics of #MeToo, sexual harassment in politics, and skewering big oil, big banks and other bullies whenever possible.