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“Whatever the mind believes and perceives, it can achieve.”

Inez Y. Kaiser

(1918-2016) 

Inez Y. Kaiser entrepreneur, mentor and community activist was a pioneer of the public relations profession and a woman of many, many “firsts.”

She was born in Kansas City, Kansas and was the first Black woman to open her own public relations firm and serve national clients.

Her mother passed away when she was young and her father suffered from long-term illness. She was deeply religious and loved reading and poetry.

Having earned an education degree, she worked for 20 years for the Kansas City, Missouri school district teaching home economics before entering the public relations profession and won many awards during her career.

Kaiser had a passion for writing and translated this to a newspaper column called “Fashion and Otherwise,” which eventually made it to print in Black newspapers across the country. She was a guest contributor for the Kansas City Star’s “As I See It” opinion column, and her “Hints for Homemakers” column reached 8 million readers in Black newspapers.

Once realizing that some of what she performed as a journalist was considered sound practices in public relations, she decided that a full-time career in that industry was her destiny. She was encouraged by a friend and editor of a newspaper that this was a solid move for her future.

(Kaiser on the Today Show. Photo courtesy Museum of Public Relations)

She founded Inez Kaiser & Associates in 1957. She faced racist building owners in attempting to lease office space in downtown Kansas City, Mo. but also knew that to have a presence downtown was important to the success of her business. She believed in herself and pressed on until she was finally granted space in 1963 from Crosby Kemper. She was the first Black woman to join the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the first Black woman to join the Public Relations Society of America. She was also a member of the local chapter, Greater Kansas City PRSA.

Her clients included Jenkins Music Company, 7UP (J. Walter Thompson), Sterling Drug, Burger King, Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, Adolf Coors, Lever Brothers and Sears Roebuck & Company. Other local clients were J.E. Dunn, Commerce Bank, Missouri Lottery and Missouri Repertory Theatre.

She fought for Black models and Black females to be represented in advertising, knowing that it was not only wrong to under represent them but also more effective in reaching those key, consumer audiences.

In addition to her work in public relations, Inez Kaiser also played an active role in multiple organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

She wrote “Soul Food Cookery,” a cookbook on Southern-style home cooking, which is still available for sale on Amazon

EDUCATION:

B.S. from the Kansas Teacher’s College in Pittsburg, Kansas

M.S. from Columbia University

Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.

 

CIVIC and COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES:

National president of the Association of Minority Women in Business

President and organizer of Jackson County, Missouri chapter of The Links, Inc.

Del Sprites organizer

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

Greater Kansas City Public Relations Society of America (GKC-PRSA)

Urban League

National treasurer of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

HONORS AND AWARDS:

U.S. Observer to United Nations Seminar on Economic Status of Women 

Ida B. Wells Award for National Association of Media Women

One of 100 Most Influential Blacks in Kansas City

The Links, Inc. National Business Woman of the Year

Who’s Who in Public Relations

Who’s Who in the Midwest

Who’s Who in Black America

The Inez Y Kaiser GKC-PRSA Scholarship Memorial Fund  Greater KC Community Foundation

Listen to an oral history of Inez Kaiser recorded by the Museum of Public Relations here: www.prmuseum.org/video-and-audio

NOTE: Information courtesy of Museum of Public Relations

Celebrating 60 years of PRSA in Kansas City by Honoring Kansas City’s Own National Trailblazer

(PHOTO COURTESY Museum of Public Relations)

As the celebration of Black History Month continues, the Greater Kansas City chapter of the Public Relations Society of America celebrates the start of its 60th anniversary year with a celebration of its own, an extraordinary member of the chapter, Dr. Inez Y. Kaiser

Donate to Scholarship Fund Here

The words that guided the career of Kaiser, a national public relations pioneer from Kansas City, Kansas, are now guiding the chapter. The chapter is honoring Dr. Kaiser this year by establishing a $25,000 endowment fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation for undergraduate college scholarships. The fund, which the chapter hopes to increase in size by raising additional funds via a capital campaign, is to help identify future Inez Kaisers. Scholarships for the The Inez Y Kaiser GKC-PRSA Scholarship Memorial Fund will be awarded starting in 2022. More information and a donation link is available here.

Inez Kaiser was born in Kansas City, Kansas in 1918. She was an educator first, but became a business woman and public relations professional of many other firsts. In 1957, she founded Inez Kaiser & Associates. In 1963, she was the first Black woman to establish a national public relations firm in downtown Kansas City – unheard of at the time. She soon had an impressive roster of national clients. Yet it was her passionate commitment to volunteerism that defined her. Kaiser was the first Black woman to join the Public Relations Society of America in 1966.

Rick Kaiser, son of Dr. Kaiser and Scholarship Advisory Committee Chair:

“I am elated and humbled that my mother's accomplishments will be memorialized,” said Kaiser. “It's quite wonderful and I thank the GKC/PRSA Inez Kaiser Scholarship Committee for everything they've done and especially for including me along the way. Growing up, I knew she was doing great things, but to me she was just “Mama” and working on this has given me a clearer picture of her extraordinary contributions to the community.”

Lea-Ann Germinder, APR Fellow PRSA, GKC/PRSA Scholarship Co-Chair: “I thank Cheryl Procter-Rogers for telling Inez Kaiser’s story, the Museum of Public Relations for all their kind assistance and for continuing to provide a platform for telling the history of public relations and in particular the stories of Black leaders in our profession. The GKC-PRSA chapter, its board and members are to be commended for recognizing Inez Kaiser on its 60th anniversary and in perpetuity with the endowment. History matters, and storytelling does indeed matter.”

Alex Miller, GKC/PRSA Chapter President: “The establishment of this endowment is an important first step in the chapter’s D&I Strategic Plan. I'd like to thank the scholarship committee members for their efforts and the chapter board for recognizing Inez Kaiser and assisting future leaders. By ensuring a lasting legacy for the scholarship, the chapter will always be able to make a difference in the lives of talented Black individuals destined for the public relations industry in the Kansas City community.”

BACKGROUND: The journey to establish the fund began in February 2020 when former chapter president Lea-Ann Germinder attended a presentation by Cheryl Procter-Rogers, APR, Fellow PRSA at the Museum of Public Relations in New York, entitled “Why History Matters: Making the Case for Storytelling,” that included the powerful story of Kaiser. Germinder became determined to find a way to honor Kaiser in her hometown chapter. She was thrilled her son Rick Kaiser and the chapter were amenable. A committee was formed led by her and vice president of diversity and co-chair Carrie Stapleton. Committee chapter members include chapter past president Norita Taylor, APR; PRSA past national chair Debra Peterson, APR; Anita

Parran; Darius Lane; Sheba Clarke; Michael Grimaldi and current president Alex Miller. Chapter members have written tributes to Kaiser which can be found on the main website.

The Greater Kansas City PRSA chapter is a community of public relations and communications professionals across the Kansas City area, from recent college graduates to leaders of some of the largest firms, agencies and non-profits. Our members represent nearly every practice area and professional and academic setting within the public relations field. In addition, we support students from across the Midwest who are members of their campus Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapters. We hold regular professional development events to enhance our professional growth. Our chapter also boasts signature events, such as our annual PRISM Awards gala honoring the year’s best in communications excellence. At GKC-PRSA our mission is to be the professional resource and advocate for Kansas City’s Communications community.

 

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