The 2020 season is the third for Dr. Christiana (Christy) Russell with the Vanderbilt football program. She serves as co-director of player development.
Russell, who completed a doctorate in human development and family science from Ohio State, joined the Commodore football staff after serving three years as the director of Vanderbilt’s Office of Transition Programs.
In her player development role, Russell serves as a mentor to Commodore student-athletes, developing curriculum to achieve personal growth in their academic endeavors, community outreach, compliance and career development.
Russell’s player development position has four goals – to create a student-athlete valued experience, increase student-athlete community involvement, prepare student-athletes for life after college encourage and continued involvement from alumni.
Russell came to the position after a successful tenure in the Vanderbilt Office of Transition Programs. The on-campus initiative, under the Dean of Students’ umbrella, focused on creating opportunities to make the university more inclusive for transfer students and more equitable for first-generation students, which included several student-athletes.
Russell started her employment at Vanderbilt University in the summer of 2013 when she was named director of student health and wellness, which was renamed the Office of Student Care and Community Support. In that role for two years, Russell coordinated wellness programming and various levels of support to reduce health and behavior risks within the student population.
Russell came to West End after serving three years as outreach coordinator for K-12 initiatives and community engagement in the Office of University Outreach and Community Engagement at Auburn. As outreach coordinator, Russell helped develop the university’s Outreach College Prep Initiative which was aimed at immersing students into the college campus and increasing resources for students entering Auburn from rural, low-income school systems.
She also served as a post-doctoral research fellow and grant writer at Auburn in 2008-09, and as a lecturer at Ohio State’s Department of Human Development and Family Science from 2004-08.
Russell earned a B.A. degree in psychology from Ohio State in 1995. She also finished a B.S. in criminal justice from Georgia State in 1998 before returning to Columbus to complete a master’s of social work at Ohio State in 2002. She was awarded a doctorate from Ohio State in 2006.
Russell and her husband, Eric, are the parents of two daughters — Heaven, a student at Vanderbilt, and Faith.