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People can create their own opportunities and simply need a nudge of positive reassurance and guidance to capitalize on them.
It’s not simply about a paycheck, but being part of something bigger and improving the greater good.
A fulfilling quality of life that synthesizes family, friends and work is the ultimate success story.
As principal of Core Development, Russ facilitates building, strengthening, and regenerating organizations, businesses and communities to accomplish long-term and sustainable growth for community-wide economic and social health. For more than 20 years, Russ has initiated and utilized collaborations and partnerships to develop communities and produce well-being in those communities with the sole purpose of building regional strength through the power of cooperation and collective action. His most recent projects produced an emphasis on giving back to the community, coordinating food packaging events for local and global recipients, and flipping how communities approach economic development.
The Viking Volunteer Corps at Elizabeth City State University is now roughly 200 students and staff strong, and has blossomed into a full student service learning program in which they earn college credits. More than 750 community members came together as one for the Rise Against Hunger event during which 109,000 meals headed were packaged for those in need in Haiti and Madagascar. Another 16,000 pounds of apples were bagged for families in northeastern North Carolina for the Food Bank of the Albemarle.
Additionally, the mission of InnovatEC is geared toward allowing people to realize their dreams by creating a cohesive, comprehensive network of partner organizations to enhance business activity, entrepreneurship, and innovation in Elizabeth City and northeastern North Carolina. The vision is a vibrant entrepreneurial community that supports locally-grown businesses and attracts new business owners, residents and investment. The effort is about building community capacity and being a “signal booster” to increase awareness of and access to the local resources, services, and expertise needed for local entrepreneurs and businesses to be successful.
For almost 20 years, Russ has worked in fields including news media, tourism, economic development, government and higher education. He came to North Carolina from his native Massachusetts in 2000 after working in radio, as a newspaper reporter and owning a retail/wholesale bakery.
Lead development and implementation of InnovatEC, a collaborative public, private, and community effort to build a northeast North Carolina innovation center with emphasis on entrepreneurship and participation of traditionally under-represented communities. Facilitate networking between public and private community leaders and stakeholders to create a sustainable culture of regional innovation. Implement and manage the ECSU organizational culture shift to use the Agile/Scrum management framework in university operations, with primary focus on the university’s community engagement, economic development, student experience, and student success. Lead and contribute to projects that harness the energy, vision, and capacity of university people and resources to achieve sustainable growth and excellence. Lead and contribute to projects and programs credited with increasing applications and awards for grant funding to sponsored programs.
Established and oversee the very successful Viking Volunteer, Community on Campus, and ECSU Student Success Network initiatives. Revivedthe Sustainability and Resilience Advisory Board, whichincludedestablishingan institutional resiliency policy, and updating campus sustainability and recycling policies.
Represent the university and participate in planning Board of Trustees’ meetings, conferences, fundraising and hosted community events.
Member of regional team working on pilot for last-mile broadband project fornortheastern North Carolina (ECSU, NC Broadband Office, AlbemarleCommission).
Leveraged long-term expertise supporting business and economic programs to foster district-wide improvements.
Served as leading force to foster business and economic development throughout the district. Coordinated with local communities, non-profits, and local, state, and federal funding sources to build a knowledge base and communicate with local and regional officials about potential funding sources and capacity development. As Rep. Butterfield’s liaison for emergency response, communicated with FEMA, SBA, and other agencies during emergency events and recovery. Represented Congressman to media, constituents, and organizations.
Organized and launched district events highlighting policy issues vital to Congressman’s agenda.
Contributed to securing a $900K federal grant for water and sewer improvements in Gates County, NC.
Mitigated food insecurity and deprivation across the community by developing policy approaches focusing on a local food economy plan for the district.
Driving force on numerous policy, program, and operational developments in support of municipal agency providing infrastructure for advancing tourism, business development, and recreation in local region.
Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Elizabeth City, NC
July 2005 - September 2008
Oversaw program development, communications, operations, revenue generation strategies, budget development, event planning, and overall agency management. Handled data and policy analysis, consulted with city and county officials, and delivered recommendations to facilitate policy and program acceptance by constituencies.
Collaborated with allied organizations to plan and create Port Discover, a regional science museum.
Led passage of occupancy tax legislation to create Tourism Development Authority (Elizabeth City/Pasquotank County Area Visitors’ Bureau) and increase occupancy tax revenues. Following establishment of Tourism Development Authority, created independent agency and served as Chief Financial Officer overseeing staff including volunteers and interns.
Developed and launched first official destination tourism website integrating a cooperative community advertising program featuring local businesses and attractions.
Secured sponsor support and vendor participation in large-scale events--two major bass fishing tournaments. Key player on winning funds to develop a city/county Parks & Recreation Master Plan, resulting in construction of a major sports complex.
Coordinated on initiatives including the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, NC Civil War Trail.
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY & ECONOMIC ENGAGEMENT
Elizabeth City State University, NC
June 2018 - Present
Design and execute programs to increase university community engagement and boost innovation capacity, activity, and connectivity with public/private community leaders in support of increasing entrepreneurship and participation of traditionally underrepresented communities.
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P.O. Box 68393, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23471
· Masters of Professional Studies in Community & Economic Development
Pennsylvania State University
· Bachelor of Arts-Media, English Minor
Worcester State University
· Strategic Program Planning and Communication
· Government & Media Relations
· Project Management & Coordination
· Process Redesign / Change Management
· Economic Growth & Sustainability
· Business & Revenue Development
· Community Development Initiatives
· Process & Policy Optimization
· Organizational Development
Community Engagement Manager at Rise Against Hunger
My interactions with Russ have involved event planning, logistics and networking for a large community volunteer show event. Through those interactions, I can tell you that Russ is very dedicated to the task at hand. I've witnessed an ability to assess a situation, make decisions in some cases, imagine greater possibilities for future events. He's a pleasure to work with, professional, kind and has a timely sense of humor, which shows up in his ability to collaborate with many other groups. At the same time, he can focus on a checklist of tasks to get the job done.
Executive Director at Albemarle Commission
Russ and I Co-lead the InnovatEC program a partnership between ECSU and the Albermarle Commission and business to develop innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the region including but not limited to a creative space that will be modeled in numerous locations throughout the region. Russ is an organized and forward thinking co-lead and brings his expertise in writing and marketing to move the project forward.
North Carolina Coast Host Award: Northeast Person of the Year
Gold Award for Destination Marketing Initiatives
Rising Star Award
Platinum Award for Destination Marketing Initiatives
2006 Gold Award for Destination Marketing Initiatives
· ECSU Staff Senate Executive Board, 2016-2018
· UNC Staff Assembly Delegate, 2016-2018
· Certified ScrumMaster – ScrumAlliance, 2015
· Basic Airport Management – American Association of Airport Executives, 2014
· Travel Marketing Professional – Southeast Tourism Society, 2009
· Graduate - Leadership North Carolina, 2008
Professional Certifications & Activities
• Selected to participate in the Institute for Emerging
Issues at North Carolina State's ReCONNECT to
• Lead Author of the Elizabeth City State University Civic Action Plan:
One Team. One goal. One Community.
• Selected to participate in the Harvard Kennedy School
Senior Executives in State and Local Government