Donald Ross (Left), with George McMahon, SJ, then dean of Fordham College, and David Langdon (right).
Donald Ross (Left), with George McMahon, SJ, then dean of Fordham College, and David Langdon (right).

Donald Kemp Ross (June 29, 1943 – May 14, 2022)[1] was an American public interest lawyer. Ross proposed the model of Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS) with Ralph Nader. Ross became the first director of the NYPIRG (The New York Public Interest Research Group, Inc.). He helped to found the Albany law firm of Malkin & Ross, and its associated advocacy organization M+R Strategic Services. He has served on the board of directors of environmental organizations.

Early life and education

Ross was the son of Helen (Kemp), a homemaker, and Hugh Ross, an administrator for the Conservation Foundation.[1] Ross was a graduate of Fordham University and New York University Law School.[1]

Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS)

While serving with Ralph Nader, Donald K. Ross wrote the book Action for a change, which proposed the organizational model for Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS).[2] He was the first director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, Inc. (NYPIRG).[3][4] While at NYPIRG, Ross helped it grow to become the largest state-based research and advocacy organization in the nation. When he resigned, NYPIRG had 180 staffers working out of 31 offices. Ross was NYPIRG's principal strategist, lobbyist and fundraiser.[citation needed]

Law career

In 1984, he and Arthur Malkin founded the law firm Malkin & Ross, which is based in Albany, New York.[5][6] Malkin and Ross later formed M+R Strategic Services, which is based in Washington, D.C.[7] He has worked as an attorney for Ralph Nader.[citation needed] Ross was a member of the New York and D.C. Bar.[citation needed]

Citizen Action Group

The Citizen Action Group (CAG) was the organizing arm of Public Citizen. Ross worked as CAG's head, and helped create the Parents Action Committee on Toys (PACT), the Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG) as well as Public Interest Research Groups in 15 different states.[citation needed]

Board member of environmental organizations

He has served as an adviser and officer of several non-profit organizations that are dedicated to public-interest causes, especially the environment. He served as the chief administrative officer of the Rockefeller Family fund from 1985 to 1999. In 2011, he was on the Boards of Directors for the League of Conservation Voters; that same year, he served as the chairperson of Greenpeace US.[7]

Other activities

Ross worked as a consultant for the Long Island Veatch Program, the Center for Research on Institutions and Social Policy, and the New York Community Trust. Ross supervised the New York State phase of a study on the feasibility of creating a Police Corps.[citation needed]

He was one of the chief coordinators for the 1979 March on Washington and the No Nukes Rally in Battery Park City.[citation needed]

Ross worked as a teacher, and worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria.[citation needed]


He is the author and co-author of many books, including A Public Citizen's Action Manual,[8] Troubled Waters: Toxic Chemicals in the Hudson River,[9] Study of European Consumer Cooperatives and Action for Change: A Manual of Public Interest Organizing.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Roberts, Sam (May 19, 2022). "Donald K. Ross, Leading Public Interest Lawyer, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  2. ^ Nader, Ralph & Ross, Donald. Action for Change. Penguin Books, 1973 (rev. ed.)
  3. ^ "About Us". NYPIRG Financial Information. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
  4. ^ Senia, Al (October 1974). "The New Student Activists". Change. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 6 (8): 29–33. doi:10.1080/00091383.1974.10568752. JSTOR 40176811.
  5. ^ "Meet the Team". Malkin & Ross. Archived from the original ( on 17 September 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  6. ^ "About Us". Malkin & Ross. Archived from the original ( on 17 September 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  7. ^ a b Executive leadership Team at Malkin and Ross Strategic Services Archived December 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^
  9. ^ Severo, Richard (29 September 1977). "Two‐Year Study of Hudson River Finds Toxic and Cancer‐Causing Chemicals That Threaten 150,000 Upstate". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Norman, Chuck (1972). "Book Review: ACTION FOR SOCIAL CHANGE: A STUDEnt's MANUAL FOR PUBLIC INTEREST ORGANIZING by Ralph Nader & Donald Ross (Grossman Publishers: NY) 1971". Insurgent Sociologist. 2 (3): 32. doi:10.1177/089692057200200307. S2CID 144720027.