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Evangel alumni perspective: Paul J. Russell

Name: Paul J. Russell

Graduation Year: 1996

Major: Business Management/Public Administration

Current Position: Vice President of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

City and State: Fort McDowell, Arizona

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

On January 9, 2018, I was elected to serve a four-year term as Vice President of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation (“Nation”) Tribal Council. The Tribal Council is the governing body of the Nation. Prior to this year’s election, I served three terms as a Council Member on the Tribal Council. As the Vice President, I ensure that our tribal government is serving the needs of our Nation and its citizens.

Similar to other governments (e.g. state and federal), the Nation provides schools, a police and fire department, courts, housing, elderly services, and more for our citizens. The Tribal Council makes decisions regarding funding, programming and regulations for these government entities. This requires knowledge of the various governmental services we provide, and that I am attuned to the needs of our citizens and workforce.

Additionally, I, along with the Tribal Council, oversee the Nation’s nine economic enterprises to assure their profitability and sustainability for our Nation’s economy. The profit from these enterprises fund the Nation’s programs and services that are in turn provided to my community. This role is akin to sitting on a board of directors, so having a background in business management has been useful. Finally, the Tribal Council has legislative authority to create laws to protect my community. I work to draft, propose, and approve laws, ordinances, and amendments for the Nation.

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

I had the honor and privilege to serve three years as the Crusader Mascot, under the late Cheerleading Coach Joyce Linn. I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to help cover my educational needs. It was fun and rewarding to support Evangel Athletics in an unusual and rewarding capacity.

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

I always wanted to serve my tribal community. From a very young age, I dreamed of being the Chief/President of my tribe. Now, I am one step away from obtaining that dream. Evangel helped me reach my calling by surrounding me with wonderful god-fearing believers with whom I have developed life-long friendships. Evangel gave me the spiritual support I needed to have success in politics and beyond. I am also very thankful for the Business Department for laying a solid foundation and providing me with intellectual tools and skills to start a career in public service and politics. I remember one on one talks with various professors that served as mentors encouraging me to pursue my dreams. 

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

Evangel taught me discipline. The school curriculum required me to be diligent in my studies, my time management, as well as prioritizing my time with God. The structure of college life prepared me to apply those same principles in my life going forward. My job requires hard work, discipline, and drive. I can honestly say I would not be where I am today if not for God guiding my steps. The journey that took me through the old barracks of that campus has allowed me to fulfill my childhood dream, and I am extremely appreciative of that gift. 

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

One quote that the late Coach Linn shared with us was “I shall prepare, and when my opportunity comes, I shall be ready.” This has become a personal mantra. In today’s competitive markets, students may not get their ideal job right out of the gate, but preparing yourself for the job you want will ultimately lead to your success. Opportunities appear at different times, and when that door opens, you must be ready to walk through it. 

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

I would hire someone who works well in teams, has a strong sense of integrity, and a committed work ethic. Working in public service requires a great deal of collaboration and a commitment and regard for the people that you serve. I would want to hire a person with those same passions. Additionally, I need someone who can be a creative problem solver and think on their toes because a variety of issues can arise on any given day.