I would like to kick-start the new Professionals in the Arts Series by honoring my friend, mentor, and unwavering cheerleader, Dr. Jeff Russell.
Jeff Russell is a special man of unwavering character fueled by his Christian Faith and his ever supportive wife, Ruth Russell.
In 2002, Jeff Russell took a leap of faith. He and his wife found their calling. They packed up their belongings and 2 children and moved to the United Kingdom to pursue a PhD in Dance Medicine and Science from the University of Wolverhampton. He was the 3rd person in the world to obtain this degree. But what is remarkable is not the degree, but what he has given up to help performing artists in need of healthcare.
In late 2001, a dancer had braved the weight room, occupied by big burly football players, to seek help from Dr. Russell regarding a dance injury. After he cared for her, word spread like wildfire that there was this "athletic trainer" willing to help dancers. And soon, all sorts of students clad in leotards and dance wear were trudging through the weight room looking for Dr. Russell. He has now dedicated his life's work to the much-needed niche and to help performing artists, a group of individuals who are not offered the same healthcare as traditional athletes, but who have just as many demands placed on their bodies.
Jeff Russell has a long lists of accolades and a publication list even longer. He is Director of Science and Health in Artistic Performance (aka, SHAPe) at Ohio University and serves on the International Association of Dance Medicine & Science Board of Directors and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Dance Medicine & Science. Prior to that he was at the University of California, Irvine where he won the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Supervision and founded and directed the Performing Arts Medicine Service at Belhaven University. He gave up his successful business as president and CEO of the Joe W. King Orthopedic Institute in Houston, Texas where he executed research for presentation at various professional societies and publication in a variety of orthopaedic journals to pursue a life of service.
This story alone makes Jeff Russell remarkable. But there is more. Fundamentally, Jeff and Ruth Russell dedicate their lives to the unwavering support of the growth and development of others. He taught me to keep my eyes focused on the distant lighthouse becon of our Faith shining through the dark waves and fog. He took my phone calls at odd-hours during many brutal 7-days-long physician calls marked by a mere couple hours of sleep and no rest. He sent me encouraging texts all 4 years of my training. He taught me that it is our spouses partnered to us by His Grace that allows us to carry on with our Work. And he and Ruth have done this for countless others including their own adopted children, not only encouraging us in our professional careers but more fundamentally in our personal character development.
Jeff Russell is embarking on a new venture. Through his platform Artsanus, he will be sharing his knowledge and insights. But importantly, he will be sharing his passion and Faith. It is my hope that Jeff and Ruth will touch your lives as they have changed mine and my family's.