KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Inez Kaiser, a Kansas City native and public relations pioneer, 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.
"Hard-working, dedicated, skilled, creative but more importantly, a bulldog," he said of the tenacity that carried Inez Kaiser from teaching home economics to writing a fashion column and ultimately to public relations. "Telling her 'no' was not an option. If you told her no, that was the beginning of the battle."
As the United States navigated the Civil Rights Movement, Inez carved her path in her hometown.
"She was the absolute first person of color to get national PR accounts," Rick said. "She struggled getting business in Kansas City. She said to heck with this, I'm going to go big."
Inez became a national figure in the field, holding the ear of multiple presidents.
She kept writing, too — publishing a soul food cookbook that landed Inez on the Today Show, bolstering her profile.
As time went on, more people learned about her PR prowess.
"It’s her story that's inspirational, and now we're trying to find the 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 happening through a scholarship in her name, offering opportunities to students of color pursuing PR careers.
"This is just such a milestone for this industry, to not just recognize somebody like Inez, but also to have her legacy continue on in such a positive way for generations to come," said Shelley Spector, founder of the Museum of Public Relations.
Inez will be featured in multiple museums in the near future, and her son is determined to shine a light on her historic life.
"My mother, all five feet tall of her, was a pioneer and fearless," Rick said.
Don’t just take Rick’s word for it — his mother had the last word on the trail she blazed in a phone interview she conducted before she died in 2016.
"I just kept on moving, I didn’t let anyone stop me. If I believe in something, that’s all that matters," Inez said. "If you do right, you’ll come out on top. It may seem kind of rough and bad at times, but it works itself out."
Applications for the Inez Y. Kaiser GKC-PRSA Memorial Student Scholarships are open now and close March 25.