National Capital Chapter

Lifetime Achievement Award Bestowed To Lisa Osborne Ross And Gemma Puglisi

Osborne Ross and Puglisi Inducted into the National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame on December 2

WASHINGTON, D.C.The Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA NCC) is pleased to announce the inductions of Lisa Osborne Ross and Gemma Puglisi into the National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame. They will be honored at the PRSA NCC’s 52nd National Capital Excellence in Communication Awards (ECAs, formerly Thoth Awards) on Wednesday, December 2 from 5-6 p.m. ET. The ECAs celebrate the best in communications, marketing and PR in the Washington, D.C. region. Tickets are currently available at no cost:

PRSA NCC started the National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame in 1999 by inducting 50 leaders with significant accomplishments in the public relations field as part of the chapter’s 50th Anniversary celebration. The Hall of Fame members hold more than a thousand awards, distinctions, honorary degrees, advisory positions, charity board seats, and Who’s Who citations among them.

“The PRSA NCC board of directors joins me in congratulating Lisa Osborne Ross and Gemma Puglisi for their lifelong achievements in the PR industry, for using their sphere of influence to advance the greater Washington, D.C. community and local nonprofits, for mentoring and propelling the next generation of young professionals forward, and for their selfless contributions to multiple professional development organizations in our industry,” said Lauren Lawson-Zilai, 2020 president-elect and National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame chair. “This year’s inductees are role models due to their significant contributions to advance causes, spur changes in the community and the industry, specifically for underrepresented populations, and for their selfless approaches in ensuring communicators at all levels have equitable opportunities.”

Lisa Osborne Ross serves as Edelman’s U.S. chief operating officer and leads Edelman’s Washington D.C. office as president. In this role, Ross is responsible for overseeing the firm’s U.S. operations and providing strategic oversight to its Washington, D.C. office. She is known as an in-demand counselor to senior executives at Fortune 500, higher education and government institutions.

Ross has a long and storied career. Prior to Edelman, Ross’ career spanned the public and private sectors. She served in the Clinton Administration, specializing in policy development and issues management. She was communications director for the U.S. Department of Labor’s effort to promote high-performance workplaces, deputy director of the bipartisan Federal Glass Ceiling Commission and chief of staff of the White House Office of Women’s Initiatives and Outreach. This led her to a 15-year career at Ogilvy that culminated in roles as founder of the multicultural practice and head of the public affairs division. She was managing director of APCO Worldwide’s flagship office before arriving at Edelman.

A lifelong resident of Washington, D.C., Ross is committed to giving back through volunteering and dedication of time and talent. She co-founded and led the Washington Area Women’s Foundation (WAWF) where she provided support in securing grants to help women and families build pathways out of poverty as well as create economic opportunities that have positive ripple effects across society. She also co-created the E3 Network (Empower, Elevate and Engage), which was established to address the lack of diverse women in the C-suite of communication agencies by exploring barriers and developing actionable solutions. This year, Ross spearheaded the formation of the Floyd Forward Task Force at Edelman, convening the experts and minds across the team to provide strategic guidance and resources to colleagues and clients to dismantle racism. Additionally, she led Edelman’s COVID Task Force, which oversees the company’s operational solutions to the challenges wrought by COVID-19.

Ross has served on numerous boards including, Catholic Charities of America, Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School Board of Trustees, LeMoyne College School of Communications, Marquette University Centennial Celebration of Women, and the Washington Jesuit Academy. In addition, she serves on the board of the PRSA Foundation. She is a member of the Awareness Leadership Council for the Capital Area Food Bank, and is a member of the International Women’s Forum, the Diverse Leadership Group for the Ad Council and a Politico Women Rule ambassador.

Ross has received several awards including, Marquette University Alumni of the Year, PR Council Diversity Champion Award, PRWeek Hall of Femme, Savoy Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Corporate America, Washington Life’s “Style and Substance” Award, Washington Women Who Mean Business, and the Washington Women in Public Relations’ PR Woman of the Year Award.

“Throughout her career, Lisa Osborne Ross has been a leader in educating and advocating for fairer, more equitable workplaces, particularly for women and people of color. In an industry where representation has often lagged, she has been a necessary voice of leadership, highlighting the reality that diversity of all kinds – racial, socioeconomic, gender and political – leads to better work product,” said Russell Dubner, president and CEO, Edelman US. “To lead in our industry requires a balance of ingenuity and effectiveness, spanning world-class work, unwavering client relationships, seamless operations and an inclusive culture, and passion, pragmatism and moxie. Lisa Osborne Ross is one of those leaders.”

“Lisa understands the importance of having a mentor and she has more than given back to the industry by mentoring dozens of men and women – making connections, serving as their champions, and offering invaluable advice – to inspire the next generation of communicators. Lisa is guided by, ‘to whom much is given, much is required,’” said Ernest Drew Jarvis, managing principal, Jarvis Commercial Real Estate. “Lisa’s unwavering dedication to her profession, our community, our city and our region is tangible and measurable. I have personally witnessed Lisa’s trailblazing commitment to do what’s right. She is authentic in her service to the culturally rich community in which we live and operate.”

Ross earned a B.A. in journalism and political science from Marquette University.

Gemma Puglisi is an award-winning media strategist, former journalist, author and practitioner, and is also a native Washingtonian. She currently serves as a full-time assistant professor of public communication at American University (AU) where she has taught both graduate and undergraduate students as well as high school students in the Discover the World communication summer program. She also served as the faculty advisor for AU’s PRSSA chapter for 15 years, ensuring that her students are involved with the PRSSA conference every year. Under her leadership, the team has won many awards including, Best Diversity Chapter, Star Chapter (five consecutive years), Nationally Affiliated Student Firm, the John D. Graham Scholarship, the Betsy Plank Award, the Ofield Dukes Multi-Cultural Student Award, the Ruth Edelman Scholarship, and numerous Gold Key Awards.

Her AU School of Communication (SOC) classes have won recognition from The Washington Post, the Washington Times, the former Mayor of D.C., the D.C. Mystics and other organizations. Additionally, she turned her class into a community-based learning class, which allows her students to implement hands-on projects and provide pro bono services to several local charities including, A Wider Circle, Arlington Academy of Hope, Covenant House, Neediest Kids and SOUL. Her students have also worked and supported organizations that have dealt with high profile cases including the James Foley Legacy Foundation, in honor of the late journalist and video reporter who was killed by ISIS in 2014. Her text, “Public Relations Campaigns & Portfolio Building,” published in 2012 by Pearson Education, was the first of its kind, guiding students on how to create successful PR campaigns.

During her career, she has worked in broadcast news at NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, the TODAY Show and MSNBC; in public relations at Edelman and Powell Tate; in the financial sector, where she was a market reporter/media relations specialist for Nasdaq; and in entertainment with the MEW Talent Agency.

Puglisi has contributed to the industry and local community in a number of ways. She served as chair of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Educators Academy, a national organization comprised of nearly 400 academics. In addition to being committee chair, she served as the secretary, fundraising chair, chair-elect and past chair. Puglisi is also serving a two-year term as the secretary/treasurer for the Commission of PR Education and a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

For her work in mentoring students, she received the “Best Advisor” award twice at AU. Puglisi served on the first diversity committee created by AU’s School of Communication. She and her colleagues were instrumental in creating a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) faculty award – the Martin Luther King, Jr. Vision Award – for the university.

Puglisi received the Order of the Star and was knighted by the Republic of Italy for her contributions to education and promoting Italian language and culture. She is a long-time member of the National Press Club and serves on its broadcast and headliners teams. She also serves on the board of the National Organization of Italian American Women, where she received their Wise-Woman Award.

“You can ask me, or the hundreds of other people that Gemma has touched during her career, the constant touchpoints she creates. Gemma tirelessly works to create a network of people who elevate the communications world by helping one another,” said Anthony LaFauce, principal, Clyde Group and adjunct instructor, American University. “The connections that Gemma has made benefit her students in ways they do not fully realize until years later. Gemma’s tireless efforts to help her students and community, simply put, makes her the type of person that should be recognized.”

“Whether it was getting the dean of the communication school to give opening remarks at an on-campus meeting, or bringing in top-tier speakers to come, sometimes fly, to our events – the time and effort Gemma poured into our PRSSA Chapter was beyond measurable,” said Emma Ingram, assistant account executive, Zeno Group. “Among the countless accolades, Gemma proves she is the rock of our chapter and we owe all our past, current and future successes to the dedication she pours into her students.”

Puglisi earned her B.A. in arts and music (magna cum laude) from Trinity College and her M.A. in drama from The Catholic University of America.

Criteria for the PRSA NCC National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame includes 30 or more years of distinguished accomplishments, visionary leadership, mentoring, commitment to the profession, positive and significant impacts on the industry, and contributions to the local public relations community. Inductees must have worked in the Washington, D.C. area for at least 10 years. To view the list of Hall of Fame members, visit:


About PRSA’s National Capital Chapter
The PRSA National Capital Chapter (PRSA NCC) is an association of communications professionals in the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. region. As the largest PRSA chapter in the country, NCC advances the local communications profession by fostering collaboration, enhancing knowledge and skills, and creating connections through robust, up-to-date, and inclusive educational, networking, and professional growth opportunities. For more information, please visit, or connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Promote the ECAs using the hashtags, #2020ECAs and #PRSANCC

Lauren Lawson-Zilai
President-Elect and Hall of Fame Chair, PRSA NCC
Phone: (703) 691-9212