T. Alan Russell: businessman, philanthropist, educator, ShopBotter
Where: Paris, Illinois
What: Liberty Fund
ShopBot Tool: The ShopBot Buddy at his workshop, and several that he and his wife have donated to charitable and educational causes
T. Alan Russell has enjoyed a long and successful career in the business world, including his tenure as President and Chief Operating Officer at Illinois Cereal Mills, Inc. Today, Alan serves as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of The Pierre F. and Enid Goodrich Foundation, and Chairman of the Board at Liberty Fund, Inc. This dedicated philanthropist and youth mentor, "a teacher at heart," as Alan says, has also long been passionate about woodworking.
It is his love of woodworking that first led Alan to discover ShopBot Tools. And what's truly notable is that his caring about helping at-risk youth has led him to put ShopBots to use in many interesting venues.
"I discovered ShopBots at a woodworking show back in 2008," says Alan. "I was impressed to see that the tools live up to the company's promise — delivering power at an affordable price. I also liked the attitude of the ShopBot employees that I met at the show, and that sealed it for me. I ordered a Buddy for my Water's Edge Woodworking Academy." This school is where Alan offers summertime woodworking classes for middle schoolers who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to learn about the craft.
Over time, the Russells have helped other local schools bolster their educational offerings by donating ShopBot tools. And Alan's desire to be of service has extended beyond his local area in Illinois. Through his leadership of the Liberty Fund (www.libertyfund.org), Alan has built relationships with the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala, as well as with a local Orthodox Christian orphanage there, Hogar Rafael Ayau.
The orphanage may well provide Russell with his greatest pride of achievement. "The young girls here have suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse. In this safe and supportive environment, they have a chance to heal and grow strong. My wife and I donated a ShopBot to their woodworking program. Their current big project is making 26 solid mahogany church pews. The girls learn math in a hands-on way; they learn graphic design and computer skills; they gain tremendous self-confidence by succeeding at making beautiful objects; and they earn money from the work that they create. I feel like I'm really making a difference in their lives!"