The Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA NCC) announced the induction of Lisa Osborne Ross and Gemma Puglisi into the National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame. Ross, left in photo, and Puglisi, right in photo, will be honored at the PRSA NCC’s 52nd Annual National Capital Excellence in Communication Awards, the ECAs – recently rebranded from the Thoth Awards, on Wednesday, December 2. Due to the pandemic, the event will be held virtually.

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 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 approach 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 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 office. She is known as an in-demand counselor to senior executives at Fortune 500, higher education and government institutions.

Prior to Edelman, Ross’ career spanned the public and private sectors. She served in the Clinton Administration as Deputy Director of the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission and as a founding member of the White House Office of Women’s Initiatives. Upon leaving the public sector, Lisa began a 15-year career at Ogilvy, where she founded the Multicultural practice and served as head of Public Affairs. She was later named Managing Director of APCO Worldwide’s flagship office.

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. 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 communications 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. 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, the International Women’s Forum, the Diverse Leadership Group for the Ad Council and is 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.

Gemma Puglisi is an award-winning media strategist, former journalist, author and practitioner. She currently serves as a full-time assistant professor of Public Communication at The 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. 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.

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 and in the financial sector, where she was a market reporter/media relations specialist for Nasdaq.

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 Educators Academy. Her School of Communication 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 and her students 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.

For her work in mentoring students, she received the “Best Advisor” award twice at American 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 their 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. 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 for the university.

Criteria for induction in the PRSA NCC 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

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