We are delighted to announce the appointment of Rita Ross as Board President.
Rita has been a practicing attorney for several decades. Thirty of those years have been dedicated to public service as in-house counsel for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), culminating with her retirement in 2013.
As Board President, Rita brings a wealth of knowledge in a wide-range of practice areas from her distinguished career with the FDIC’s Legal Division. She has extensive knowledge in risk management, and has advised on major operational and functional risks identified within the Legal Division.
Throughout her career, Rita has demonstrated a deep commitment to diversity and creating paths for promotional opportunities. In 1997, she developed an effective career transition outplacement program uniquely tailored to meet the needs of the approximately 1,300 lawyers who faced the possibility of significant personnel reductions within the Legal Division.
She also served as the national point-person for the Legal Division’s Minority and Women Outreach Program from 1997 to 2005. In that capacity, Rita worked to ensure that minority and women-owned law firms would have the opportunity to serve as outside counsel to the FDIC. From 1999 to 2002, she served as the Co-President for the American Bar Association (ABA), Section of Business Law, Committee on Diversity. Along with implementing the Section’s first Diversity Plan, she developed and launched a highly successful Business Law Ambassadors Program in 2000, which has served as a model throughout the ABA.
Rita has been recognized by a number of awards, including the FDIC Annie D. Moore EEO and Diversity Award for her contributions to diversity and inclusion. She was also the recipient of the Jean Allard Glass Cutter Award from the ABA, Section of Business Law. This award is presented annually to an exceptional woman business lawyer who has cut through barriers and has made a significant contribution to the profession. Additionally, Rita was honored with the President’s Award by the National Bar Association in recognition for her outstanding service to the oldest bar association for predominantly African American attorneys and judges in the United States.
Rita received her undergraduate degree in 1976 from Tufts University with a double major in German and Political Science, and her law degree from Boston College Law School in 1980. She is admitted to practice in Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and before the United States Supreme Court.
We are thrilled to benefit from Rita’s leadership in this new role.
Keep reading to learn more about Rita in a brief Q&A.
How did you first become involved with Iona?
After retiring in 2013, I decided I would make time in my retirement for learning how to navigate planning for my aging. I took a class with Iona’s Take Charge/Age Well Academy and knew instinctively that I wanted to spend my free time supporting Iona.
What have you learned since becoming involved with Iona?
I’ve learned about the importance of community. While we all want to remain independent as we age, it’s also critical to have a support network to help you manage any challenges along the way. Keeping social connections is just as important to your health and wellness. And plan ahead! Get your resources lined up before a crisis hits.
Why are you passionate about this work?
Most of us are going to be caring for a loved one at some point. And we’re all going to age! So I think it’s vital that everyone understands that there are resources out there that can help them navigate this unknown terrain. No one should be doing this alone. That’s where Iona can come in.
For me, becoming involved with Iona has been and continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. Iona is one organization where you not only help others with your donations or time, but you can also help yourself. It’s empowering to think about my future—and rewarding to share—what I’ve learned with friends, former colleagues, and neighbors. And it feels good to use my talents and skills for a reputable organization, where there is such a positive impact on people’s lives across the District. People who have memory loss…people who are at-risk of exploitation…people who need a community—Iona addresses so many different kinds of challenges. I’m proud to know that we’re changing people’s lives.
What are your priorities as Board President for the next two years?
It’s an honor to be Board President during such a momentous time in Iona’s history. The future is bright and I am encouraged by the philanthropic support and excitement around the opening of our new center in Southeast DC this year. I am passionate about expanding Iona’s community impact to other less-resourced communities within Washington, DC. I want potential clients to know that “Iona’s got you!”
I’m also committed to Board engagement, with a specific focus around developing and cultivating relationships with each Board member. It’s important for Iona’s future that we take full advantage of our Board’s tremendous knowledge and skills.
To learn more about each of Iona’s Board of Directors, click here.