Indianapolis Urban League

Mark Russell

Mark Russell

Director of Advocacy


Mark A. Russell currently serves as the Director of  Advocacy for the Indianapolis Urban League (IUL). In this capacity, Mark supervises the services of the department and sets policies for these vital service areas of the agency. Mark’s duties and responsibilities in this area include investigating and referring complaints of educational bias, providing advocacy for the educational needs of disadvantaged students and their parents, supervising IUL programs that serve youth and their parents, supervising emergency requests for rent/mortgage and utility assistance as well as seasonal assistance at Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition to identifying and maintaining funding sources for all three program areas, Mark is the agency’s United Way Liaison and also researches and authors grant proposals on behalf of the organization.

In May of 2009, Mark was selected to be the first Community Member of the Editorial Board for the Indianapolis Star. In this position, Mark wrote monthly columns and attended Editorial Board meetings from June 2009 through May 2010. Mark was invited to return as a monthly columnist in 2011 and writes monthly columns on a variety of subjects.

Prior to joining the Urban League in November of 2001, Mark worked as a self-employed consultant on personnel matters and as a grant proposal writer. During the past 15 years, Mark has secured more than $5 million in grant funding from a variety of funders.

Mark has previously served as Coordinator of United Way of Central Indiana’s Neighborhood and Community Development Impact Council. In this capacity, Mark helped to implement the Council, helped select Council members, performed neighborhood-oriented research, assisted neighborhood groups, and worked with officials from the Annie E. Casey Foundation (Making Connections Initiative) and the Asset Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University on various neighborhood activities.

From 1995-1999 Mark served as Vice President of Administration for Community Action of Greater Indianapolis (CAGI) where he supervised personnel (300+ employees), legal, safety, and security issues as well as program development. Prior to this appointment, Mark served as CAGI’s Grants Specialist where he successfully procured new, continuation, and expansion funds for CAGI’s programs in excess of $1.5 million over an 18-month period (June 1993-March 1995).

Mark served with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission for six years (1987 –1993) where he served as the Commission’s Legislative Liaison, Grant Proposal Writer, Media Officer, and Affirmative Action Coordinator. While at the Commission Mark was most privileged by his role in helping secure the passage of the Indiana Fair Housing Act by the Indiana General Assembly in 1991 and his establishment of a network to report hate crimes among human rights commissions in the state.

After his graduation from Indiana University in June of 1986, Mark served for a year as Governor’s Fellow under Indiana Governor Robert D. Orr. Mark holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Telecommunications from IU Bloomington.

Mark accepted his call to the ministry in June of 1993 and was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1995 at the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN where he affiliated in 1987.