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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.  




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. 


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.

Established and oversee the very successful Viking Volunteer, Community on
   Campus, and ECSU Student Success Network initiatives. Revived the
   Sustainability and Resilience Advisory Board, which included establishing an
   institutional resiliency policy, and updating campus sustainability and recycling

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 for
    northeastern North Carolina (ECSU, NC Broadband Office, Albemarle

Special Assistant to the Chancellor, University Project Management   
Elizabeth City State University, NC

March 2015 - May 2018

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.

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.

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.

Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Elizabeth City, NC

July 2005 - September 2008

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

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.


"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."


- Darron Stover
  Community Engagement Manager
  Rise Against Hunger


"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."

- Cathy Davison
  Executive Director
  Albemarle Commission

See Website:‍‍‍

Port Discover Hands-on Science Center for Northeastern North Carolina: Port Discover exposes young children to middle schoolers in a low-income, high poverty region to hands-on science. Since its conception in 2003, this organization has captivated the community. It continues to fill its initial mission to enhance youth science understanding through interactive and guided discovery.


2014 | North Carolina Coast Host Award: Northeast Person of
           the Year

2007 | Gold Award for Destination Marketing Initiatives

2007 | Innovation Award

2006 | Rising Star Award

2006 | Platinum Award for Destination Marketing Initiatives

2006 | Gold Award for Destination Marketing Initiatives


Professional Certifications & Activities

• ECSU Staff Senate Executive Board, 2016-2018

• UNC Staff Assembly Delegate, 2016-2018

• Certified ScrumMaster – ScrumAlliance, 2015

• Selected to participate in the Institute for Emerging Issues at
   North Carolina State's ReCONNECT to Community Initiative.


• Selected to participate in the Harvard Kennedy School Senior
   Executives in State and Local Government program.

Basic Airport Management – American Association of Airport
   Executives, 2014


• Travel Marketing Professional – Southeast Tourism Society,


• Graduate - Leadership North Carolina, 2008

   Lead Author of the Elizabeth City State University Civic Action   
   Plan: One Team. One goal. One Community.


Masters of Professional Studies in Community &
   Economic Development  
   Pennsylvania State University

• Bachelor of Arts-Media, English Minor

   Worcester State University

Other Experience/Skills

• 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


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