Rick Ross was born November of 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio. His family moved to Phoenix during 1956 and he grew up in Arizona.
Ross attended both elementary and high school in Arizona, except for a brief one-year stint at Camden Military Academy, a boarding school in South Carolina. He never attended college.
During his summers he often worked as a camp counselor and was an avid swimmer.
After graduating from Phoenix Union High School in 1971 Ross was first employed by a finance company and later a local bank. In 1975 he took a job with a cousin's auto salvage business. He became a company vice president and worked in that area until 1982. During this time his other interests were largely good cigars, art, jazz and classic cars.
But in 1982 a controversial religious group infiltrated the staff of a Jewish nursing home where Ross' grandmother was a resident. He brought this to the attention of the director and working with the organized Jewish community in Phoenix, ended the problem.
Ross' effort at the nursing home soon led to further work with the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix and the publication of a ground breaking brochure, which carried the ecumenical endorsements of most of Arizona's religious leaders. It was titled, What in God's Name is Going on in Arizona?
The brochure achieved wide recognition and Ross was soon appointed to a national committee focused upon the cult phenomenon, by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC). The UAHC, commonly called the "Reform Movement," is one of the largest denominations of Judaism in the world today.
Ross was later appointed to the UAHC Interreligious Affairs committee. And during the 80s he lectured and contributed to educational materials for the denomination.
In the early 80s Ross also became aware of serious problems regarding proselytizing within the prisons and jails of Arizona. He again brought this to the attention of the organized Jewish community.
Hate groups, harassed, threatened and frequently targeted Jewish inmates. Jews in prison also lacked any meaningful advocacy or consistent programs.
Ross founded the Jewish Prisoner Program of Arizona, which was soon absorbed by Jewish Family & Children's Service (JFCS) of Phoenix.
In 1983 Ross became a member of the JFCS professional staff. What was once volunteer work for the Jewish community, now became his full-time job.
Ross' work on behalf of Jewish prisoners culminated in his election as chairman, of both the Religious Advisory Committee to the Arizona Department of Corrections and the International Coalition of Jewish Prisoner Programs sponsored by B'nai B'rith in Washington D.C.
During his time at JFCS Ross continued his cult-related work, studies and research.
He also became an instructor for the Phoenix Bureau of Jewish Education and designed a course curriculum about destructive cults.
In 1986 Ross left the staff of JFCS to become a full-time private consultant, lecturer and cult intervention specialist.
He then began working privately with the victims of destructive groups and/or leaders.
His professional help is typically requested by parents, but often is sought by spouses and at times by the adult children of cult members. He has done hundreds of interventions.
Ross once cooperated with parents in involuntary "deprogramming" cases.
Such involuntary interventions were initiated by families and involved the restraint of a loved one. In this type of intervention the cult member was not free to leave and instead restrained under the supervision of their family. This restraint guaranteed an opportunity and adequate time to address family concerns.
However Ross, like other professionals working in this area, abandoned involuntary casework some years ago. He now restricts his intervention work exclusively to voluntary efforts, unless working with a minor child under the direct supervision of a custodial parent.
In voluntary interventions adult cult members are free to go at any time.
Cult members willingly agree to participate in Ross' current intervention work, despite the option to leave, usually because family members urge them to stay.
Ross states that amongst his current voluntary cases 75 percent not only decide to stay and discuss their family's concerns, but ultimately leave the group, which has drawn concern.
He has maintained this success rate consistently for some years. This is important, in a field where such definitive results are most often the bottom line.
Ross has worked throughout the United States and internationally.
Rick Ross has lectured at more than 30 universities and colleges. This has included such prestigious institutions as the University of Chicago, Dickinson College, Carnegie Mellon, Baylor, The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Duquesne, Knox College and Rutgers.
Ross has been qualified, accepted and testified as an expert witness regarding destructive cults and controversial groups in ten states, typically concerning child custody and personal injury cases.
His work with law-enforcement has included consultation with local police departments across the United States, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and the FBI.
Families once retained Ross to do two interventions with Davidians and both ended successfully. His study of the once little known group led by David Koresh, began in 1988 as a direct result of repeated complaints.
Ross' work has been cited and/or his comments quoted in newspapers across the United States including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, USA Today, Dallas Daily News, Boston Herald, LA Times, Village Voice, Seattle Times, Phoenix Republic, Anchorage Daily News, Tampa Tribune, The Las Vegas Sun, Austin American Statesman, Richmond Times Dispatch and the Oregonian.
Ross has likewise been quoted within national magazines such as Newsweek, GQ, Details, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, American Lawyer and Slate.
Wire services such as Associated Press and Reuters have also carried his comments.
Time Magazine cited Ross as "a veteran cult watcher."
He has also been quoted within international publications including The London Times, The South China Post, Davar of Israel, Processo of Mexico, The Toronto Sun, Johannesburg Sunday Times and The Australian Courier.
Ross has appeared on more than 100 radio shows across the U.S. including National Public Radio, CBS and Pacifica and internationally on the BBC, RAI in Rome, CKO National Network of Canada and the Australian Broadcast Corporation.
He has appeared on American national network television on programs such as Nightline, Dateline, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Primetime, NBC Evening News, CNN, MSNBC, Oprah, 48 Hours and MTV News. Ross has appeared internationally on such television networks as NHK, Asahi and Nippon in Japan, CBC of Canada and TV 2 National News of Denmark.
He has also participated in documentaries for Post Newsweek, NHK and Court TV.
Ross has been retained as a paid professional consultant by CBS, CBC and Nippon television networks.
He also worked for Miramax/Disney as a technical advisor to the actor Harvey Keitel regarding his role in the Jane Campion film Holy Smoke.
Launched in 1995, his website, RickRoss.com, is now one of the largest and most comprehensive sites about controversial groups and leaders on the Internet. It contains thousands of articles and documents archived through hundreds of individual group and subject web pages.
Noted cult researchers and authors Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman call RickRoss.com, "The Mt. Everest of mind control Internet Resources."
Thousands of individuals visit this website every day.
Rick Ross personally handles hundreds of complaints and inquiries each month. This work has often led to breaking stories both about "cult" abuses and celebrity, political and business involvement with groups often called "cults."
After 2000 Ross launched two more related websites. CultEducation.com, which features educational materials about cults and CultNews.com for breaking stories.
In 2001 Ross moved from Arizona to New Jersey.
At the beginning of 2003 Ross launched the Rick A. Ross Institute Inc. (RI). RI is a New Jersey nonprofit corporation recognized as a tax-exempt educational charity by the US Internal Revenue Service. The mission of RI is the study of destructive cults, controversial groups and movements. RI maintains public archives made available through the Internet and is an institutional member of the New Jersey Library Association.
In January 2009 Rick Ross was an official guest of the Chinese government invited to attend an International Forum on Cultic Studies sponsored by the the Centre for the Study of Destructive Cults in China. Ross presented a paper, which was published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Other than his work, which requires frequent travel, Ross is a life-long art collector and still enjoys a good cigar while listening to some quiet jazz.
Ross is pictured on this page in front of an oil painting by noted artist Steven Yazzie titled, No Spring Chicken.
Britain's FHM Magazine named Rick Ross "America's number one cult buster."