Prior to becoming the executive director of a Children’s Advocacy Center in the Pacific Northwest, Ms. Russel served as a trainer and consultant to child protection and child abuse prevention professionals on all aspects of child maltreatment, investigation, forensic interviewing and child abuse litigation, as well as an expert witness in multiple state and federal courts on child abuse, with particular focus on sexual victimization. These included serving as a forensic interview specialist with the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and as executive/senior director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC), providing administrative and programmatic oversight and professional training on a national and international level. She also served as a pro bono attorney for children in dependency court and an adjunct faculty member in the Child Advocacy Studies Program at Winona State University. Ms. Russell obtained her B.A. from Hope College in 1992, her M.S.Ed. in counseling from Western Illinois University in 1999 and graduated magna cum laude from SUNY Buffalo Law School with her J.D. in 2009.
Ms. Russell is a nationally certified counselor and has worked with victims of violence and trauma in several capacities, including extensive counseling and support work with child victims of abuse, and as director of victim services and counselor for survivors of homicide victims. In addition, she has served as a consultant for multiple CACs and multidisciplinary teams for child abuse investigations; served as an independent contractor and trainer for UNICEF on child abuse and trafficking issues in Kosovo; trained Special Victim Counsel at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia on representing child victims in military court; and provided training on forensic interviewing, child abuse issues and domestic violence in Colombia, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Ms. Russell has conducted research on vicarious trauma in child protection attorneys, and authored numerous articles on interviewing and child maltreatment including: a chapter in Clinician’s Toolkit For Children’s Behavioral Health entitled Sexual Development: It’s Not Just for Teens (forthcoming), published by Elsevier Inc.; The Spiritual Impact of Child Abuse and Exploitation: What Research Tells Us (2018), published in Currents in Theology and Mission; Child Forensic Interviewing: Best Practices (2015), published by OJJDP (co-author); Multidisciplinary Response to Youth With Sexual Behavior Problems (2014). Ms. Russell is co-author of the ChildFirst® Forensic Interview Protocol, which is replicated in twenty states and two countries. She is a member of several professional societies and serves on the editorial boards and peer review pool of the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma; Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma; Journal of Child Custody; Journal of Child Sexual Abuse; and Journal of Family Violence. Ms. Russell joined the Zero Abuse Project Speakers Bureau in 2019.