Dr. Rita Kirk
William F. May Endowed Director
Rita Kirk holds the rank of Professor at SMU as both an Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and a Meadows Distinguished Professor. Kirk has been awarded both the prestigious “M” Award and the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award by the SMU student body. As an academic, she is recognized for her analysis of political and persuasive campaigns. She is the author of several award-winning books and numerous articles, including Political Empiricism: Communications Strategies in State and Regional Elections; Hate Speech, a book analyzing implications for hate discourse in public communication, with coeditor David Slayden; and Soundbite Culture: The Death of Discourse in a Wired World. Specializing in communication strategy, she has more than 30 years of experience as a strategist for city council, mayoral, state, U.S. Representative, and gubernatorial races.
In addition to her political consulting, she has served as a communication consultant to several national and multinational corporations on public policy matters. Kirk and research colleague Dan Schill conducted dial tests for CNN and ABC-Hearst/Argyll during the 2008 Presidential primary and general elections debates and continue to work with them during Presidential State of the Union addresses. Kirk holds a bachelor's degree in Communication/Political Science and a master's degree in communications, both from the University of Arkansas. She received her Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Missouri.
In addition to her work in the Ethics Center, Crespo is an adjunct professor in the department of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at SMU. She also advises and advocates for SMU's student military veterans and serves on the SMU Veterans Advisory Board. Crespo is a first-generation college graduate and finds immense joy in working with the university’s students.
She joined SMU direct from Washington, D.C., where she worked in public affairs and served as special assistant to former White House Press Secretary and GPG Founding Partner Joe Lockhart at The Glover Park Group. At the Glover Park Group, Crespo provided strategic account support and direction for 14 Fortune 500 companies and specialized in research-driven policy campaigns, opinion research and reputation branding.
Previous experience includes extensive work in non-profit management and communication research at various domestic and international non-governmental organizations including The Ormylia Center, Ormylia, Greece; The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, London, England; The Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico; and Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation, Dallas, Texas. In addition, she has worked for CNN as an on-air focus group facilitator for their live coverage of large-scale political events.
Red and blue, through and through, Crespo graduated from SMU with a B.A. in Corporate Communications & Public Affairs and a minor concentration in Spanish. She completed SMU’s Cox School of Business Graduate Marketing Program in 2011 and holds a Master's in Higher Education Policy and Leadership from SMU's Simmons School of Education & Human Development. Crespo is a proud member of the Junior League of Dallas and an honorary inductee of Tau Sigma.
Program Specialist & Lead Designer
Richmond is responsible for the print and digital marketing and design of the Center, as well as the supervision of the Center's student interns and employees. She also manages the Maguire Public Service Fellowship Program. Richmond serves on SMU President R. Gerald Turner's Commission on the Status of Women. She joined the Maguire Center from SMU Continuing and Professional Education where she served as Assistant Manager of the Summer Youth Program. Before joining the SMU family, she served as Special Projects Manager at the National Math + Science Initiative, coordinating teacher trainings and conferences at a national scale.
Richmond graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance and a minor in Anthropology. She completed the Writers in New York program with a focus in Short Fiction/Poetry at New York University, and was invited to the Yale University Writer’s Conference in New Haven, Connecticut. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies from SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education & Human Development with a concentration in Humanities.