KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City native and public relations pioneer Inez Kaiser is being celebrated this Black History Month and every month to come with a new memorial scholarship in her name.
Rick Kaiser is Inez Kaiser’s only child. He remembers his mother as a woman with many hats.
“Hardworking, dedicated, knowledgeable, creative but above all, a bulldog,” he said of the tenacity that took Inez Kaiser from teaching home economics to writing a fashion column and, finally, public relations. “Telling him ‘no’ was not an option. If you told him no, that was the start of the battle.
As the United States navigated the civil rights movement, Inez made her way through her hometown.
“She was the first person of color to get national PR accounts,” Rick said. “She had a hard time doing business in Kansas City. She said fuck it, I’m going to be big.”
Inez has become a national figure in the field, holding the ear of several presidents.
She continued to write, too — publishing a soul food cookbook that landed Inez on the Today Show, boosting her profile.
Over time, more and more people discovered his public relations prowess.
“It’s her story that’s inspiring, and now we’re trying to find future Inez Kaisers,” said Lea-Ann Germinder, former president of the Greater Kansas City chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Finding successors is now being done through a scholarship in his name, providing opportunities for students of color pursuing careers in public relations.
“It’s such a milestone for this industry, not only to recognize someone like Inez, but to have her legacy continue in such a positive way for generations to come,” said Shelley Spector, founder of the Museum of Public. Relationships.
Inez will be featured in several museums in the near future, and her son is determined to shed light on her historic life.
“My mom, who was all five feet tall, was a pioneer and fearless,” Rick said.
Don’t just take Rick’s word for it – his mother had the final say on the trail she laid in a phone interview she conducted before his death in 2016.
“I just kept moving, I didn’t let anyone stop me. If I believe in something, that’s all that matters,” Inez said. “If you do well, you will come out on top. It can sometimes feel a bit harsh and bad, but it works on its own.”
Applications for the Inez Y. Kaiser GKC-PRSA Memorial Scholarships are open now and closed March 25.