R. Ross Harris. Executive Director
Ross Harris is the Executive Director of NCIOPL. A Greensboro native and graduate of Duke University, where she also earned her MBA, Ross began her career at the Leo Burnett Company in Chicago. There she rose through the ranks to VP, working on some of the world’s most recognized brands, including the Kellogg, Pillsbury, Green Giant, McDonald’s and Philip Morris accounts. While the majority of her time was spent in Chicago, she did a tour in the Taipei, Taiwan office for the agency. Next, a move to the client side also brought a welcome move back home to North Carolina, with an offer from Burlington Industries to be Divisional VP to help steer the Lees Carpet brand. She joined Trone in 1999 and started her own business marketing and communications company, The Harris Partners, in 2007.
Ross has extensive experience as both a campaign manager and political strategist in partisan, nonpartisan, and referendum campaigns in North Carolina. Ross is well-known in the Triad area for her recent work as Project Manager for the Steven Tanger Performing Arts Center, a two-year initiative that involved input from the entire Greensboro community. Her efforts included development, City Council approval, and community support for the project.
Ross loves playing golf and spending time with the love of her life, Henry, her miniature poodle. A former President of the Duke University Alumni Association and a former member of the University’s Board of Trustees, she’s a Blue Devil basketball fanatic. She’s still involved at Duke, volunteering primarily with the Duke Cancer Institute and the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. She’s just as passionate about her hometown, with significant involvement with the Greensboro Day School, the Greensboro Rotary Club, Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, the UNC-G School of Nursing Advisory Board, the Greensboro Sports Council, the Tournament Host Committee of Greensboro, and First Presbyterian Church.
Ross was named an Honorary Fellow of the Institute in December 2015.
Debbie Kelly, Director of Programming and Operations
Debbie, a graduate of the NCIOPL Fellows and Women in Office Program, served as the Interim Executive Director from January 2014 through June 2014. Prior to assuming the Interim ED role, she served as the Alumni Engagement Manager from February 2013 thru December 2013. Debbie was an educator in Moore County for over 15 years and served as the Caucus Chair for the North Carolina Association of Educators and Local Area President of the Moore County Association of Educators. She also served on the NCAE Government Relations Commission, lobbying the General Assembly and Congress extensively advocating on behalf of public education.
Other activities in her community include past membership in the Junior League of the Sandhills, where she served as Treasurer and committee chair for SOS Crates, a fundraising campaign to provide school supplies to needy children. She has also been very involved with the Moore County Relay for Life, serving as the Team Captain for many years. Debbie also served on the Parent Booster Committee for the Pinecrest Cross Country Team and Track/Field Team from 2007-14.
Prior to moving to North Carolina, Debbie worked in the banking and finance industries in Florida. She resides in Pinehurst, NC with her husband Greg and three sons.