Russ Paulsen

Senior Advisor

Russ has a superior track record of raising funds and leading coalitions to design and implement solutions to large-scale problems--for nonprofits and within society.  His experience includes convening multi-stakeholder coalitions as well as leading teams of 5 to 195 people, and managing budgets of $5 million to $216 million. He is skilled both in raising funds, making grants, general management, strategy and metrics development, program leadership and organizational change. He is a quoted expert in The Atlantic Monthly, CBS Radio, NBC News, Time magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. Russ served as the United Way Worldwide Vice President of 211, the nationwide program that connects people in need with real people who can help. In that capacity, Russ was responsible for providing overall strategic, operational and business development leadership to the national 211 network, partnering with the leaders of the national system to create the next generation of 211. Prior to joining United Way, Russ served in a variety of roles with the American Red Cross, most recently leading the development and nationwide roll-out of the largest new program at the Red Cross since the 1970s: a home-fire preparedness campaign that saved nearly 100 lives in its first 18 months. During that time, the coalition of participating agencies educated 500,000 children on fire safety education, created new media campaigns generating 1 million YouTube views in two months and raised more than $15 million in private donations and federal grants.

Russ started his career at the American Red Cross in 1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area, serving in both programmatic and fundraising roles. In 2002, he moved to Red Cross headquarters to lead an organizational redesign of the disaster services program and a restructuring of field operations. He was then asked to lead a $216 million long-term recovery program in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Following that assignment, he served as Executive Director, Community Preparedness and Resilience. In that capacity he was responsible for all programs that kept neighbors and communities safe from disaster. He grew financial support for these programs by more than 100% in three years, and oversaw writing, execution, and reporting on major corporate, federal and United Nations grants.  In addition, he co-convened (with federal partner) stakeholders in community preparedness to develop new, coordinated, evidence-based messaging, moving the field from focus on public awareness to public action.

Russ is a member of the Resilient America Roundtable at the National Academies of Science, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado. He is also an Illinois native and graduate of the University of California, Riverside and the University of California, Berkeley.