APCO: Lisa Osborne Ross hire highlights commitment to diversity

Ross has worked at Ogilvy PR since 2001, and before that held key communications roles in the Clinton administration.

WASHINGTON: APCO Worldwide said Thursday that its appointment of Lisa Osborne Ross as MD of its Washington, DC, headquarters highlights the firm’s emphasis on diversity amid a noticeable dearth in the industry.

She will start in the role on August 10.

"[Osborne Ross’] appointment is just the latest in what I think is a real operational commitment to hiring and developing strong women leaders in the industry, and really our commitment to diversity," said Nelson Fernandez, chairman of North America and MD of APCO Worldwide’s New York office.

He said a diverse range of leaders at the firm will boost its "strength and competitive edge," pointing to his own Latin roots and Osborne Ross, a black woman, leading APCO’s DC office. He credited agency founder Margery Kraus with leading the charge.  

Osborne Ross commented that APCO has grasped the importance of hiring across diverse backgrounds, whether racial, socioeconomic, or even political affiliation.  

"People have a tendency to surround themselves with people who look like them," said Osborne Ross, adding that while even if unintentional, it poses problems for others to break through.

Osborne Ross’ career includes stints in both the private and public sectors – she was a top communications aide in the Clinton administration – yet she said agency work is "the most fulfilling and the most complex."  

"It’s very simple: you have to be clear, you have to be authentic, and you have to be pragmatic, but you also have to be visionary," she explained. "Above all, you have to be honest with your client and you have to be honest with your colleagues."

Osborne Ross added that communicators are invaluable because they serve as a bridge between information and the audience.

Since 2001, Osborne Ross has served as EVP and practice head of the corporate and public affairs practice at Ogilvy Public Relations in Washington, according to her LinkedIn profile, and she has also worked at FleishmanHillard.

Osborne Ross worked in the Clinton White House as a communications director in the Department of Labor, deputy director of the bipartisan Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, and chief of staff for the White House’s Office of Women’s initiatives and Outreach.

"[Osborne Ross] has had a long and successful run with us," Robert Mathias, CEO of North America at Ogilvy PR said in an emailed statement. "We are grateful for her contribution to Ogilvy’s success and wish her nothing but the very best in her new endeavor."

Mathias told PRWeek that Ogilvy PR is currently seeking her replacement through a "fairly extensive search."

"It really gives us the opportunity to go back and test the waters [and] really continue to upgrade our skills and our bench," he said, adding that the opportunity is "an exciting one." 

This story was updated on July 16 to include comment from Mathias.

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