Maria Russell

Maria Russell is Professor of public relations and the Director of New Initiatives in Public Relations Education at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University. She joined The Newhouse School in 1986 after more than 16 years of professional public relations practice. She was Chair of the School’s Public Relations Department from 1990-92 and again from 1994-2002 and created The Newhouse School’s interdisciplinary, limited/residency distance learning program for mid-career public relations professionals, leading to a master’s degree in Communications Management.

Maria’s career includes positions as Vice President of Communications, Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce; Consultant for the Greater Syracuse Program, a four-year economic development campaign for the Central New York area; Director of Community Relations for the United Way of Central New York; and Editorial Assistant/Writer for the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She supervised the Main Press Center for the 1980 Lake Placid International Winter Olympics. She managed media relations for the 1981 National Sports Festival and served as public relations chairman for the 1987 AAU/USA National Junior Olympics.

Her professional accomplishments have brought her numerous national awards and recognition from United Way of America; the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE); the Chamber of Commerce of the United States; and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). In 1992, she was inducted into PRSA’s College of Fellows and was named PRSA’s 1997 “Educator of the Year.”  In 1998 she was elected to a two-year term on PRSA’s National Board of Directors, served as Secretary for 2001, and 2004 Treasurer of the 20,000-member professional society. In 1999 she was selected for membership in The Arthur W. Page Society.

Maria serves on the governing boards of the PRSA Foundation and PRSA’s College of Fellows. She also sits on the boards of directors of the United Way of Central New York, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, and OnCenter, Onondaga County’s Convention Center.

She has been a member of The Plank Center’s Board of Advisors since its establishment in 2005.


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Our Mission

The Plank Center’s mission is to help develop and recognize outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society. The Center works to achieve its mission by:

Advancing knowledge of leadership values and skills in the profession;

Supporting research, teaching, service, and professional educational efforts that help develop diverse, responsible and trustworthy leaders;

Bridging the interests and vision of the practice and education; and

Collaborating with other groups and associations to nurture the ethical and effective practice of public relations.