Lisa Russ, Organizational Development & Strategic Communications Consultant

“Social justice work requires groups, movements and networks to find new ways of working together. It takes a willingness to keep on learning, experimenting, being wrong and trying again to keep at it. I love working with groups to find the sweet spot at the center of what they know, where they want to go, and what they are willing to do together to get there.”

Lisa Russ has been building social justice initiatives, programs and organizations since 1995. As a program director at Global Exchange, she founded Exploring California, engaging youth and adults to increase understanding of immigration, trade and labor issues in California’s agricultural regions and at the U.S./Mexico border.

During the dot-com boom, Lisa provided intensive capacity building and technical assistance to groups fighting for affordability in San Francisco’s low-income neighborhoods. Focusing especially on Bayview Hunters Point and South of Market, she helped establish and stabilize several organizations, which continue to serve residents and to organize on local issues. Bringing her insight from these experiences to a wider audience, PolicyLink published her writing on using geographic information systems (GIS) mapping and data to support community organizing.

Lisa then spent a decade as Associate Director of the Movement Strategy Center (MSC). In that role, she built MSC’s infrastructure, managed the growing staff and provided consulting, training, strategic planning and capacity building to local, statewide and national groups engaged in racial justice work. In addition to working with numerous organizations and alliances, Lisa also collaborated with several foundations, facilitating learning groups and networks of practitioners.

In 2004, Lisa co-founded Organizational Development for Social Change (ODSC), a network of practitioners who support social change organizations. She also co-authored a paper about the unique challenges and opportunities of supporting social justice organizations to create and sustain internal change.

Beginning in 2010, Lisa supported Strong Families, a national initiative to secure the rights, recognition and resources that all families need to thrive. Lisa led the development of their communications and digital strategies, creating multiple platforms, leading online campaigns, training and engaging partners, and managing large consultant teams. Lisa’s contributions included the highly successful Mama’s Day campaign, which has become a cornerstone of Strong Families’ work.

Lisa now works as an independent consultant, providing organizational strategy, capacity and communications support for a range of organizations. As a process queen who loves measurable results, Lisa helps organizations navigate critical change moments by providing structure, tools and resources to support clear thinking and solid implementation. Lisa is driven by a deep curiosity about change at every scale.

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