For the past six years, I have chaired the Inez Kaiser Graduate Student of Color Awards for the Public Relations Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. If you do a quick online search for Inez Kaiser, most of your returns are for the Inez Kaiser Graduate Student of Color Awards. Little about Ms. Kaiser turns up. Most of the students who receive this award have never heard of Ms. Kaiser and are clueless about her importance is to public relations.
I met Ms. Kaiser when I received the Kaiser Award at the 2003 AEJMC Kansas City Conference. And until last month, I didn’t know much about her except that she was the first African-American woman to belong to Public Relations Society of America and the first African-American woman to head a public relations agency with national clients.
Beyond those accomplishments, Ms. Kaiser has led a very active, diverse life:
Kaiser’s firm, Inez Kaiser and Associates, specialized in public relations, advertising, and market research and had offices in Washington, D.C. and Kansas City. She started the firm after she left a teaching position.
She is a cookbook author. According to Rose Nolen’s Hoecakes, Hambone, and All That Jazz, Kaiser received a master’s degree in home economics from Columbia University and authored three publications: Kaiser’s Original Soul Food Cookbook, Inez Kaiser’s Soul Food Recipe Cards and Homemaking from a Teenager’s Point of View.
In 1972, Inez Kaiser founded the National Association of Minority Women in Business. According to Organizing Black America, Kaiser founded the organization as a result of a study that she conducted on female business ownership while employed by the U.S. Department of Commerce. That study revealed that minority women often experienced difficulty in gaining access to much-needed capital for their businesses and lacked the advantage of higher education or training in business. On November 22, 1997, Kaiser received the National Minority Advocate Award during the 15th Annual National Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference in Washington, D.C.
A proclamation from the Council of Kansas City best summed up Ms. Kaiser’s work:
“Inez Kaiser is a meticulous and elegant individual that pays close attention to detail and style. This same attention is given to her work and is reflected in all that she endeavors to assume responsibility for, including her weekly column for the Kansas City Call that offers insight and wisdom to struggling professionals aspiring to enter the industry.” Sadly, no one has documented the rich life and career of Inez Kaiser. I hope that changes in the near future.
Submitted by Natalie Tindall. Natalie is an assistant professor of public relations at Georgia State University. She specializes in diversity and identity in public relations and teaches Public Relations Writing, PR Research and Campaigns.
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