When asked what it meant to become an IABC Fellow, the 2023 cohort shared that the designation recognizes a communication professional’s commitment to the practice, validates lifelong industry contributions and honors an impactful and longstanding career. It is the highest honor IABC bestows on its members.
This year, IABC is proud to welcome Ginger D. Homan, ABC, SCMP, and Russell Grossman, ABC, DipPR, FRSA, FCIPR, FCIM, to this distinguished group of communication professionals.
Get to know Ginger and Russell below, and learn how their contributions to the profession have impacted the industry.
How does the IABC Fellow designation advance a communication professional’s career?
Ginger Homan (GH): People with the Communication Management Professional (CMP) or Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) designation have tested themselves against the Global Standard. It’s proof they possess a high level of expertise. The Fellow designation signals that you are putting excellence into practice — not just in what you do, but how you do it.
The Fellow designation also shows that you are giving back to our profession with the hope of creating a better future for other communication professionals. Being able to carry the designation gives you added credibility — plus, you have immediate access to amazing colleagues.
Russell Grossman (RG): The IABC Fellow designation is a significant achievement that can further enhance a communication professional's recognition, credibility, networking and professional development opportunities.
I’m greatly humbled by being awarded what is IABC’s highest honor. It’s a prestigious recognition that acknowledges a communication professional's significant contributions to the communication field, to their particular specialism, to their employing organizations and their voluntary activity. All of this demonstrating that the Fellow is a thought leader in the industry, and has made a significant impact.
The extensive nomination process is itself also a valuable opportunity for reflection and assessment. I am deeply touched by what my nominators wrote in their bidding. Most Fellows already have extensive networks, but the designation opens further doors — including to other networks in the C-Suite, as well as providing valuable opportunities for collaboration, teaching, learning and mentorship.
Think back on a situation or project that you are most proud of. Describe the project and your role in it as a communication leader. How did this work impact the profession?
GH: There are a lot of projects that I’m proud of. Projects that delivered measurable results for the organization — from billions of dollars ultimately being sourced from women-owned businesses, to a community bank with high turnover and within two years being named one of the Best Places to Work.
While these projects impacted the organization and its employees, they didn’t directly impact the profession. The biggest impact I’ve had is to consistently drive measurable business results for all my clients. When we do that over time, not only do we build trust, we expand our influence and prove the value of our profession. Every time I take on a new client, I know that if I do my job right, it will open doors for the internal communication team. It is the business results that impact our profession and prove its value.
RG: I’m proud of many projects I’ve run (OK, not all of them!) but the one at the top of the list must be my involvement as a founding director in the UK Government Communication Service in 2013.
Ten years on, the Service has significantly professionalized communications across government and has a membership of over 7,000 communications professionals, working in six disciplines across the profession, UK-wide and overseas. I am head of the internal communications discipline and — along with my network, comprising the heads of internal communications of government departments — am proud to have raised the profile, credibility and respect of internal communications to at least the level of the other disciplines. In the process, I have raised the capability, capacity and confidence of those practicing within it.
IABC research shows that communication professionals are most likely to thrive when they are knowledgeable about multiple business functions within their organizations. As a Fellow, how do you demonstrate this cross-functional skill in your practice?
GH: By virtue of our role, we are part of critical conversations throughout the organization. If we take the time to connect the dots, we can prevent teams from reinventing the wheel, cross-pollinate ideas and drive innovation. That adds value to the organization and expands our influence.
RG: Any communications leader must understand and appreciate the wide range of business functions in their organization, simply to act as an effective communications counsel. As a Fellow, I would strongly advocate the need for communications practitioners to exercise a broad outlook in their organizations, to be curious, and to initiate open dialogue with as many of the other functional leaders within their organizations as possible. We tend to have a run of the C-Suite as communication leaders, but with that comes the responsibility for knowing what fellow business heads are doing, thinking and worrying about.
What makes you proud to be a Fellow?
GH: I’m proud to be a Fellow because of those who came before me. These incredible communication professionals have been my role models, dating back to when I was an IABC student member. I see them as both curious and wise. The body of research they have generated, the examples they set for ethics and the way they do their work. This is the foundation upon which I built my career.
RG: Clearly, being recognized as an IABC Fellow is a source of much pride because it acknowledges my professional achievements and contributions — in my case, over a 40-year career. It’s a validation of my work, dedication and expertise, and I look forward to the opportunities that Fellowship allows me to share with others through mentoring and general participation in IABC programs.
What’s your advice for those considering nominating a communication professional for the IABC Fellow designation? Why take advantage of this distinguished opportunity?
GH: If you are considering nominating someone, I would study the nominating packet — particularly the Readiness Assessment Questionnaire and the rubric used by the selection committee. They strive to make the process completely transparent. For the nominee, the process of reflecting back on your career is insightful and worth the effort. We don’t usually take the time to do that. The final gift is this amazing professional network of people who have fun learning, sharing and giving back to benefit the future of IABC members.
RG: One the one hand, ensure your proposed nominee has a proven track record of excellence in the communication profession, as well as a commitment to the advancement of the industry through leadership, mentorship, innovation and general service to the profession. Check that you or your proposed nominee aren’t undertaking this as a vanity project. Assuming you’re nominating a deserving professional for this designation, you will not only recognize their accomplishments but also contribute to the advancement of the profession as a whole by providing your nominee with a further platform for sharing their expertise.
Please be aware however, that the nomination process is done thorough quite a lot of paperwork and involving secondary nominees, so do allow a lot of time; and make sure the nominee is happy to be nominated! (And if they’re not, be prepared — after your judgement — to persuade them why they are worthy of a nomination!)
By IABC Staff, Featuring Ginger D. Homan and Russell Grossman
Ginger D. Homan, ABC, SCMP, IABC Fellow
Through Ginger’s work with senior leaders and communication professionals, she creates conversations to bring out the best in their people and their brands. Her award-winning communication model for driving transformation has been used to align employees, build market share and transform thinking around the world. Corporations and foundations have used the model to achieve lasting results and senior communication professionals have used it to align department goals with business goals, achieve measurable results and expand their influence.
As a result of her work with professional service firms, Ginger also created a framework for owners to grow their business. The strategic business development process guides them through developing prospects, cultivating relationships and ultimately executing the work; all based around developing measurable results. The goal is to help leaders be strategic in how they tell their stories and where they invest their marketing dollars.
A seasoned speaker, coach and workshop facilitator, Ginger has been recognized with multiple awards for communication excellence and leadership. Her work has been honored by the IABC, the Society of Marketers of Professional Services, and the Public Relations Society of America. She is a recipient of the Leadership Tulsa Paragon Award for volunteer work in the Tulsa community. Her company, Zia Communication, was honored as a Top Inclusive Workplace by MOSAIC, the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s coalition of companies and nonprofits that advance, cultivate and celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
In her work with IABC, Ginger served as chair of the International Executive Board and two terms as secretary/treasurer. As chair, she championed the first DE&I policy and created a taskforce to explore how nominations for the board and international committees could be more accessible for diverse candidates. She advocated for the first business acumen training to enable communication professionals to better understand the businesses they support and position themselves for leadership roles. Ginger was instrumental in leading IABC to a financial turnaround, gaining the association a GuideStar platinum seal for transparency, and received the International Chair’s Award in 2016 for her efforts. She was honored again in 2020 for her leadership in revising the IABC business model. She currently serves on the Stronger Together Organization Structure and Governance Model Taskforce.
Russell Grossman, DipPR, ABC, FRSA, FCIPR, FCIM, IABC Fellow
Russell marks 40 years in communications practice in 2023, the majority of which has been in public service. He has been a Senior Civil Servant with the UK government since 2006 and is currently Director of Communications at the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the government department responsible for regulating Britain’s railways and overseeing the performance and efficiency of its national highways.
Concurrently, and for the last nine years, Russell’s been head of the UK Government internal communications profession and is the senior sponsor for both the Government Communications Fast Stream and its Talent programmes. Russell’s also a non-exec director of the “Engage for Success” movement for the advancement of employee engagement and has been a visiting Fellow at CASS Business School.
Russell was Group Director of Communications at the UK Government Department for Business for eight years and Head of Change and Internal Communications at UK Tax and Customs department, HMRC, for the two years prior to that. He was Head of Internal Communications at the BBC for seven years and before that, Director of Communications at the UK’s Postal Service, Royal Mail. In the nineties, Russell headed up public relations for construction of London Underground’s Jubilee Line extension – at the time the largest construction project in Europe. Russell has also worked in consultancy.
In 2013, Russell was one of the founders, and remains a senior director of, the UK Government Communication Service, which today has over 7,000 members practising across six communication disciplines, supporting and promoting the work of 25 ministerial departments, 21 non-ministerial departments and over 300 agencies and other public bodies.
Russell joined IABC in 2003 and has twice been PAC Chair for World Conference. He was one of the progenitors of the IABC Career Road Map, leading to formation of the Global Communications Certification Council, and served for five years on the International Executive Board, becoming IABC International Chair in 2014-2015.
A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce; of the UK Chartered Institute of Marketing; and of the UK Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Russell is married to his long-suffering wife of 37 years (and counting) and is blessed with four children (one of whom also works within UK Government Communications) and five grandchildren.