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.
Candy Crespo is the associate director of the Maguire Ethics Center where she oversees the day-to-day operations of the Maguire Ethics Center and is responsible for developing meaningful programming and partnerships. She is also an adjunct professor in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at SMU. She has ten years of experience as a leader in higher education and finds great joy in working with students and faculty to create powerful learning environments.
Before joining SMU, she worked in public affairs and policy research at the Glover Park Group in Washington, D.C. There, Candy provided strategic public affairs support for 14 Fortune 500 companies and specialized in research-driven policy campaigns, opinion research and reputation branding. Her work experience also includes extensive work in non-profit management and communication research at domestic and international non-governmental organizations including The Ormylia Center, Ormylia, Greece; The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, London, England; and The Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico. Candy worked for CNN as a focus group facilitator for their live coverage of the Presidential Debates and State of the Union Address. Additionally, Candy has seven years of experience in the financial services industry where she was ranked in the top 5% in the nation.
Candy holds a B.A. in corporate communications and public affairs and an M.Ed. in higher education policy and leadership from SMU. She completed the Harvard Graduate School of Education Management Development Program in 2018. She is a co-author and editor of the forthcoming book Ethics at the Heart of Higher Education (Wipf and Stock Publishers). Candy is a member of the Junior League of Dallas and regularly volunteers with St. Philip’s School and Community Center. Candy and her husband Rene live in Dallas and have one daughter.
Program Specialist & Lead Designer
Adria Richmond is the program specialist and lead designer of the Maguire Center. Richmond co-manages daily operations of the Center including the Maguire
Public Service Fellowship program and Center student staffers. In addition, she co-manages the Center’s
annual fundraising and academic events and prepares correspondence and reports, including the Center's annual report. Richmond manages the creation of internal and external
marketing and design and is the producer of the Ethics Center’s podcast “SoundEthics.” She
serves on SMU President R. Gerald Turner’s Commission on the Status of Women at the University.
Richmond joined the Maguire Center from SMU Global and Online 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 on a national scale.
Richmond graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and a minor in
Anthropology. She completed the Writers in New York program 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 with a concentration in Humanities from SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human