Innovator in Residence Center for Pedagogy in Arts and Design, Associate Professor of Theatre, School of Theatre
An actor, playwright, and educator, Dr. Russell has experienced a twenty-five year career as a professional actor on and off-Broadway, in regional theatre and at opera companies across the country. As a professional playwright, her works Olympia (1998) and Present Perfect (1999) have been produced by the Emerging Artist Theatre in New York City and Lincoln Center, her play Severe Clear was a semi-finalist in the 2006 O’Neill Theatre Center Playwriting Competition, and her 2009 play Ecoute: Pieces of Reynaldo Hahn, starring PSU School of Music faculty member Norman Spivey, toured 40 venues in the United States.
In 2007 she created Cultural Conversations which is a new visual, theatre, and dance festival devoted to promoting and fostering new works that circle themes of global and local diversity. Her 2010 and 2011 books Body Language: Cultural Conversations Reaching Out and Reaching In and Body Language: Stop the Violence and Start the Conversation are provided free of charge to school systems and community organizations, and the books offer day by day templates on how to use playwriting, media, and public performance to explore the social issues that affect middle and high school students.
Russell was honored in 2012 with the Penn State Commission For Women's Faculty Award for her work on women's issues at Penn State University and in the surrounding community, in 2013 she was selected as one of the Faces of Penn State, and in 2014, Russell was appointed as The 2014-2015 Penn State Laureate. During her Laureate year, Russell brought all of the Penn State campuses together in an ongoing conversation about Dignity.
Russell graduated summa cum laude with a PhD in Theatre Studies from Florida State University in 2008, and in 1979 she received her BA in Theatre from St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, NC.