Priscilla Painton, Vice President and Executive Editor
Priscilla Painton is the Executive Editor of Nonfiction at Simon & Schuster. Since joining Simon & Schuster, Priscilla has acquired a range of books, including bestselling biographies of Michelle Obama and Ted Kennedy, the history of The Presidents Club, the memoir of an anxiety sufferer, the secret diary of one of the most powerful Communists in China, the story of an enlightening near-death experience, all of which became bestsellers, as well as books on history, politics, science, religion, economics, and American society.
She is presently working on books by Michael Shelden on Winston Churchill, Robert Wright on the evolution of happiness, David van Biema on the Psalms, Candice Bergen on her life, Lauren Sandler on the virtues of singletons, Duff McDonald on McKinsey, and Tracy Thompson on the new mind of the South. She also edited Paula Deen’s Bible of Southern Cooking, which became a number one New York Times bestseller.
Priscilla was born in Rome, the daughter of two foreign correspondents. She moved to Paris as a kindergartner, and spent the next 18 years trying to escape with her sense of humor. She came to the United States to attend college, and briefly considered becoming a historian. Her journalistic genes prevailed (her two grandfathers were also in the trade) and she ended up covering sewer systems and crime in the feisty town of Lenox, Massachusetts, for The Berkshire Eagle.
In the middle of a Reagan recession, she moved to Brussels to cover his deployment of SS-20s, and became an expert in missile throw-weights and ranges, something that came in handy when The Washington Post hired her to cover education in Fairfax County, Virginia. She soon jumped at the chance to be the night-shift reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Her passion for politics, cultivated early in the smoky classrooms of the Ecole Alsacienne in Paris, finally asserted itself, and she landed on the 1989 presidential campaign covering Jesse Jackson. He lost the election, but gave the band of reporters covering him the best road trip they would ever have.
Out of that campaign experience, Priscilla was hired as a reporter by Time, where she wrote cover stories on, among other topics, the three capitals of leisure in America: Atlantic City, Orlando and, with a colleague, Las Vegas. Then, with two kids at home, she got off the road and became an editor, but did not leave the fun behind: between directing the coverage of the nation’s politics and its scientific, business, social, and cultural challenges, she managed to squeeze in a few cheeky covers like “Is Feminism Dead?” and “Everybody’s Hip (And That’s Not Cool).” She became Time’s deputy managing editor in 2006, and joined Simon & Schuster in 2008.