Ginny Ross Truly Added Legs to the Phrase: Making a Difference

Blogs are often personal and this one is certainly that. Stepping out of character a bit, I thought I’d share the thoughts of many NSPRA leader about Ginny Ross, NSPRA’s Director of School Communication Services from 1972-1990. Unfortunately for us in this profession, Ginny passed about a week ago at the age of 92.

ThroughouGinny Rosst my career, as I work with young professionals, I always advise them to strive to “be known for something.” I ask them to think through, “What is that you want to be known for?”

You should demonstrate those desired attributes through accomplishments as often as you can. And in this case, I’m not talking about counting how many likes you have on your social Facebook account or how often you tweet about your latest gourmet dinners. There is a time and place for all those things. But for career advancement, you should stick to the professional and societal accomplishments where you have made a difference.

Let me take a few minutes to demonstrate just how a true professional — Ginny Ross — made a difference from many of the leaders in our field.


And since this is my blog, I get to go first:

For those of you who didn’t know Ginny, she was one of the major NSPRA forces who helped build us into the NSPRA that we know today. She served our members and our profession first as a school PR pro in the local St. Louis area and then at the NSPRA office for 18 years. I was privileged to work and learn from Ginny in many capacities but she also rallied with Ken Muir and me to take on the threat of bankruptcy that NSPRA faced in the late 80’s and early 90’s. In addition, in another voluntary “gig,” she also headed the NSPRA Building Fund that led to our acquiring the current office condo in Rockville, Maryland, where we eventually retired that mortgage years ago.

Ginny balanced her love of NSPRA and our members, with a passionate enthusiasm for the success of all her family members in sports, academics, and career success. Ginny was a great advocate for all that is right for children. Her career and life’s activities and accomplishments serve as model for all of us in our profession.

Rich Bagin, APR, NSPRA Executive Director

Ginny was one of a kind, with a contagious passion for education, for NSPRA, and for the noble work of school public relations professionals everywhere. She was a national leader, a mentor, a friend, and the consummate professional. All of us privileged to know and work alongside her are the better for it.

John H. Wherry, ED.D., APR, Former NSPRA Executive Director

I remember her well, and consider her love for and involvement in NSPRA a cornerstone of our renaissance as an organization. I hope you’ll share this beautiful tribute with our full membership…. Her light definitely lives on through NSPRA.

Susan Hardy Brooks, APR, NSPRA President

Ginny joined my family for my Mom’s birthday one year and added stories and laughter to our celebration. I just loved her — a woman of wisdom, knowledge, humor, and a kind heart.

Kathy Leslie, APR, Past President

I owe much of my career to Ginny Ross. She wrote the first Win at the Polls with me, encouraged me to run for NSPRA office, and provided incredible support at a time in my career when I doubted my ability to continue school PR work. She cared deeply for kids and was willing to step up and speak out for them.

She stuck with NSPRA and Rich during the lean years and built a strong foundation for the future of our organization. Even after she retired, knowing she was out there rooting for us felt very good. She will be missed.

Gay Campbell, APR, Past President

As many are saying, she was indeed one of a kind, and a truer friend to the organization and profession would be hard to find. Wish more of today’s members had known her and could have benefited from her spirit.

Larry Ascough, Past President

Ginny was a mentor and the best role model a person could ever know. I was fortunate to know and learn from her when serving on the Board in the early nineties. She left a wonderful legacy…. She truly loved NSPRA and was devoted to seeing our organization survive and flourish. She will be missed.

Connie Blaney, APR, Past President

Just as she was to so many others, Ginny Ross was one of my early NSPRA mentors, but to NSPRA, she was so much more. Icon, legend, and treasure come close to describing her, but I believe NSPRA Mother Hen fits her best. I learned so much from her that helped define my career in school public relations.

I was there during those dark days when NSPRA’s existence was seriously threatened, and saw Rich, Ken, and Ginny tirelessly breathe new life into the organization. Ginny never lost faith.

I was also there when we were raising money for the Building Fund any way we could for a place to call home. Ginny knew we could do it. For those and many, many other accomplishments, it was my privilege to present Ginny with NSPRA’s Presidents Award when I served as president.

Joe Lowenthal, APR, Past President

Because she was, we are! She was a source of strength and a motivator for many. We shall forever love Ginny Ross — NSPRA’s drum major.

Burnadine Anderson, APR, Past President

Ginny is a part of our very heart and soul. Our deepest sympathy to her family and legions of friends. That includes all of us. Her deep convictions, massive talent, generous nature, congeniality, professionalism, kindness, wisdom, contributions to the great cause, and her abiding friendship helped us shape who we are.

We first traveled together as early as the 1970s evangelizing for a new era in school public relations. The personal stories could fill a book. I first met Ginny when she was communications director for the Ferguson/Florissant School District in the St. Louis area. Then, she brought her talents to the NSPRA staff, and the rest is history.

For me and so many others, she has been and will continue to be a patron saint. We’re all one in our unlimited fondness for Ginny and all that she has meant to us in our lives.

Gary Marx, APR, Past Presidents Award Winner

Ginny Ross is claimed by Missouri and Kansas. It was here she mentored, inspired, guided, chided, and stood beside all us rookie, wannabe school PR fledglings. Ginny Ross was THE FIRST person to ever suggest we could be more than copy paper jockeys. It was probably from her that I first heard the words “strategy,” “counselor,” and “research.”

My point is Ms. Ross was the point person, the scout, the one who shows the way; and, that “way” did not exist before her. She knew her stuff!

We all could write volumes, and probably will, about Ginny Ross. I just hope we remember that nobody ever goes further than the ones who showed the way. When you are at professional best, look around and Ginny Ross will be in everything you see. You will pass her marker a thousand times in your career. When you do, remember this about Ginny, “she would do anything to help you!” I think we still see a little of that in NSPRA today!

Jim Dunn, APR, Past President

Our profession stood on her shoulders for years and years. Simply a wonderful colleague and friend. My first glimpse into what a woman could do in school PR really spouted from observing Ginny. Most practitioners were men. Ginny held her own in any situation. A very good example for a Nebraska girl just out of college in the early 1970s.

Nancy Kracke, Past NSPRA Board Member

The Mother of NSPRA. I was proud to know her.

Bob Sharp, APR, Past Board Member

Ginny was also my mentor — an amazing lady. She helped me immensely when we were doing the Flag of Learning and Liberty celebration at 67 schools simultaneously one year after the Challenger explosion. Wow, 30 years ago. I also worked with her on many other projects — at work and for NSPRA.

What a class act.

Chevon Baccus, APR, Past President

Now THAT is what we mean by making a difference!


Rich Bagin, APR
Executive Director

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