John Russell (Oregon developer)

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John Russell
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CitizenshipUnited States
Alma mater
  • Webb Institute School of Engineering
  • Harvard Business School
Spouse(s)Mary Fellows
AwardsWilliam Selkirk Owen Award

John Russell is an American developer in the State of Oregon.


Russell is a 1967 graduate of Webb Institute School of Engineering in Glen Cove, New York, and a 1969 graduate of Harvard Business School.[1] In 2019 Russell was awarded the William Selkirk Owen Award from his alma mater, Webb Institute.[1]

Development career

Russell started his career in 1970 as a manager of Melvin Mark Properties, eventually becoming a partner. He remained with the company until 1979, when he sold his stake and began his own company.[1] He founded Russell Development Co., where he serves as President.[2]

Early in his career he developed the 30-story Pacwest Center in downtown Portland, which opened in 1984 and was named one of the top ten towers in America by the Wall Street Journal in 1997.[1] He also purchased and renovated Portland’s 200 Market Building, a 19-story commercial office building.[3] He is the owner and developer and rehabilitator of several historic buildingsin the Old Town of Portland,[4] including the city’s oldest commercial building, the 1857 Hallock-McMillan Building.[5] In 1980 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Russell Development Co. and the Portland Development Commission an Urban Development and Action Grant (UDAG) for the redevelopment of the 1884 Thomas Mann Building.

He is known for his philosophy of purposely paying employees more than his competitors in order to address issues of poverty in the United States.[6]

Political life and public service

Russell has been a supporter of candidates in mayoral elections in Portland, Oregon. He was appointed a member of the Portland Historic Landmark Commission in the early 1970s,[7] as well as the Portland Planning Commission in 1977.[8] He has served as an advisor to each Portland mayor since Vera Katz, who assumed office in 1993.[9][9] He was chairman of the mayor’s business roundtable from 1993 to 2003 under Mayor Katz, who also appointed Russell to the Portland Development Commission in 2000, later being elected chair.[10] Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Russell to the Oregon Transportation Commission.[11] In 2007 Russell became co-chair of the finance committee for the U.S. Senate campaign of Jeff Merkley.[3] He also serves as chair of the Oregon Investment Council,[12] which has about $100 billion under management, being first appointed to the council in 2015.[11] He is known for supporting diversity and inclusion in his evaluation of investment pitches.[12]

Personal life

In 1980 Russell married his wife Mary Fellows, with whom he has three children, two from Mary's first marriage and one they had together.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "W. Selkirk Owen Award | Webb Institute".
  3. 3.0 3.1 Graf, Tyler (October 4, 2007). "Developer makes foray into partisan politics • Daily Journal of Commerce".
  4. Oregonian/OregonLive, Brad Schmidt | The (April 4, 2014). "Portland parking-lot tax? Controversial proposal pits connected developer against prominent Goodman family". oregonlive.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. Leeson, Fred; Oregonian, Special to The (January 7, 2011). "Portland's oldest brick commercial building will get a makeover that will bring back its original appearance". oregonlive.
  6. Oregonian/OregonLive, Steve Duin | For The (February 4, 2015). "Steve Duin: John Russell's take on fair wages for a hard day's work". oregonlive.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. "It Takes One: John Russell | The Cultural Landscape Foundation".
  9. 9.0 9.1 housing, About Rachel Monahan Rachel Monahan joined Willamette Week in 2016 She covers; Hall, City. "Portland's Mayor Is Struggling on the Job. And It's About to Get Harder". Willamette Week.
  11. 11.0 11.1
  12. 12.0 12.1 politics, About Nigel Jaquiss News reporter Nigel Jaquiss joined Willamette Week in 1998 He covers. "Oregon Investment Council Member Blasts Elite Fund Manager For Lack of Diversity". Willamette Week.

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