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Story of Inez Kaiser

Lea-Ann Germinder, APR, Fellow PRSA, GKC - PRSA Past President, Scholarship Committee 

I want to thank the chapter for allowing me to share a story about one of Kansas City’s very own national black pioneers. When I was president of the Kansas City chapter in 1999, there was adecidedly diminutive exquisitely dressed “older” African-American woman at the PRISM awards I had not met before. I asked someone who it was. I was about to give a speech, and the only thing I can honestly recall was the response, “oh, that’s Inez Kaiser.” I went up to give my “all-important” speech and the moment to meet Inez was lost. I don’t recall seeing her again.

Fast-forward 22 years later. I was attending the Museum of Public Relations 5th Annual Black History Month event as the guest of speaker Cheryl Proctor-Rogers, APR, Fellow PRSA, past chair of PRSA and a noted PR Business Strategist/Executive Coach. Cheryl not only knew who Inez was, she celebrated her as one of the black pioneers of the public relations profession in her presentation, “Why History Matters: Making the Case for Storytelling.”

Perhaps chapter members don’t know what I learned that night and subsequently: Inez Kaiser was born in Kansas City, Kansas in 1918. She worked 20 years for the Kansas City school district before entering public relations. She started Kaiser & Associates here in Kansas City, and she was the first African-American woman to own and run a public relations firm with national clients in the U.S. She was the first African-American woman to join PRSA nationally. She was also the first African-American woman to join the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. She wrote a column for the Kansas City Star, “As I See It” and a syndicated column, “Fashion Wise and Otherwise” to help other African-American woman and promote pictures of women of color. She was a counselor to presidents Nixon and Ford – but as noted by her son voted for Obama! The list goes on.   

She was an extraordinary national trail blazer that is one of Kansas City’s own.

Inez Kaiser passed away at 98 years old in 2016. I know how hard it is to start a business as a woman, but to start a business in 1957 as an African American woman? I’m glad I got to know her story, but regret I never really met her. We have so much to thank Inez.

Immediate past president Norita Taylor, APR is working with me to engage with interested members to celebrate Inez Kaiser in other meaningful ways. If you knew her, please email me at [email protected] or Norita Taylor at [email protected] to share more chapter memories. Thank you Inez and thank you Cheryl-Proctor Rogers, APR, Fellow PRSA for calling attention to Inez Kaiser’s enduring legacy.

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