LANSING, Mich. — Kelly Rossman-McKinney, communications director for Attorney General Dana Nessel, has passed away after a battle with cancer, according to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office.
A.G. Dana Nessel released a statement in reverence of Kelly’s services, saying she began her career as a legislative secretary at the close of the 1970s and would later become an aide for Michigan’s House and Senate.
We’re told Kelly also helped Gov. James Blanchard run the Michigan Youth Corps in its early days before the program served as an example for similar programs throughout the U.S.
Nessel refers to Kelly as “the gold standard for public relations,” having helped cultivate one of the state’s most esteemed public relations firms, Truscott Rossman.
"She shattered the glass ceiling for women in Lansing by taking risks – risks she understood and committed to because she knew what challenges were, and she faced them head on," said Truscott Rossman CEO, John Truscott.
Kelly began serving as the communications director for the Department of Attorney General in 2019, Nessel says.
“I join with Kelly’s husband, children, and friends in mourning the loss of our beloved KRM."
Nessel’s full statement reads:
"There will never be another Kelly Rossman-McKinney. I am heartbroken by the loss of one of my most trusted advisors and I am honored to count myself amongst those who had the good fortune to work alongside Kelly and to witness her artistry. Kelly forged deep relationships with so many of her colleagues at the Department of Attorney General, and her loss weighs heavy on all our hearts tonight.
"Kelly started her career in Lansing as a legislative secretary in 1979. She went on to serve as an aide in both the Michigan House and Senate before being tapped by Governor James Blanchard to help run the newly created Michigan Youth Corps, which became a national model for programs across the country. Kelly was tasked with leading multiple initiatives in Governor Blanchard’s administration including the Office of Michigan Products, where she showcased Michigan-made goods to the world. Kelly then struck out on her own.
"What started as a solo operation from her kitchen table grew to one of the largest and most well-respected public relations firms in Michigan, Truscott Rossman. Kelly was the gold standard for public relations; respected by her peers and admired by her colleagues. In 2019, she joined the Department of Attorney General as Communications Director and served the People of Michigan with distinction.
"Throughout her career, Kelly has demonstrated a commitment to the greater good and to the pursuit of excellence. Her commitment was accentuated by the charisma and positivity that permeated every aspect of her interactions. Kelly’s legacy will live on in the policies she has championed and the people she has mentored.
"I join with Kelly’s husband, children, and friends in mourning the loss of our beloved KRM."
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer remembers Kelly as a role model and trailblazer.
Governor Whitmer’s full statement reads:
“Kelly Rossman-McKinney was one of a kind. Honoring a woman who always knew what to say and when to say it is difficult. A trailblazer and role model who meant so much to so many. Her unmatched political instincts and razor-sharp wit shaped Lansing for decades. Her name literally graces the skyline. It is hard to imagine this town without her, but Kelly’s timeless advice will continue to shape the work we all do. One of my favorite Kelly aphorisms was ‘have a high bar and don’t lower it for anyone.’ She set a high bar for us all. We will strive to meet it every day. My love goes to Kelly’s family who centered her world.”