Saying Goodbye To Our Colleague - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Saying Goodbye To Our Colleague

Four people standing closely together, smiling at the camera. Ted Russell (left) with SFFILM's Anne Lai and Masashi Niwano, and SFFILM Rainin Grant supported filmmaker Boots Riley (second from right). Photo credit: Barak Shrama

Ted Russell has announced he will be leaving the Kenneth Rainin Foundation effective June 14. Ted joined the Foundation seven years ago, serving as Associate Director of Arts and then as Director of Arts Strategy and Ventures for the past three years.

“I am deeply thankful for having had the privilege of working in philanthropy alongside my incredibly passionate and talented colleagues at the Rainin Foundation. Working at such an innovative organization committed to being responsive to the needs of artists while leading the field has been an honor,” said Ted. 

While at the Foundation, Ted fostered trusting relationships with grantees and partners. He co-created the New Artist Pathways initiative. This work brought together a cohort of national funders and artists to explore promising ideas to support individual artists and artist-led organizations, which led to system change efforts that included the New Models Cohort and Network of Services. During the peak of the COVID pandemic, Ted helped establish the East Bay Relief Fund for Individual Artists, with support from several arts funders. The program was administered by the Center for Cultural Innovation and distributed more than $1.5 million over three years to over 700 Bay Area artists directly.

Ted Russell

Ted’s volunteer activities included chairing the board of Grantmakers for the Arts—the only national association that brings together public and private arts and culture funders—and serving as a steering committee member for the Bay Area Cultural Funders for Equity. He was also appointed as the third Nasher Haemisegger Fellow at SMU DataArts, a renowned national center for arts research.

Ted oversaw the Foundation’s Impact Grant Program, a capacity-building initiative, and directed the Arts Program through a process to realign its strategies in line with artists’ evolving needs. He also created the Foundation’s “Let’s Talk” series, featuring artists in dialogue with funders and fellow artists. In addition, he designed the Foundation’s advocacy and policy strategy and internally, played a leadership role in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

 “It has been an honor to work with Ted to improve conditions and remove barriers for artists,” said Shelley Trott, Chief Program Officer. “Joining the Arts team at a critical strategic moment, Ted brought invaluable insights and energy, transforming and elevating our work. We know his contributions will continue to have a lasting impact on the arts field.” Ted plans to pursue his passion for supporting a thriving arts and cultural sector in the Bay Area by establishing a consultancy practice focused on key issues related to artist support.

Until a replacement is named, Shelley Trott will lead the Arts Program with Sarah Williams, Arts Program Officer. Program inquiries should be directed to the Arts Team.

A Message From Ted

Headshot of Ted Russell.
Ted Russell. Photo credit: Mitch Tobias

I’ve identified an opportunity to re-establish my consultant practice, Ted Russell Consulting, and pursue my dedication to supporting artists. I’m excited to continue working in partnership with the Rainin Foundation through grantee partners, primarily the amazing team at California for the Arts, where I’ll help launch a grassroots artist advocacy program that we researched and designed.

It won’t be easy to say goodbye after seven years alongside such caring people. I’ve been dedicated to equity since day one at Rainin and found many willing partners, starting at the top with Jen Rainin. Launching Rainin’s advocacy and policy strategy was the perfect culmination of my time as director.

My purpose is to bring love and healing into the world through art. I feel fortunate to have this next chapter to dedicate myself to working in deep collaboration with artists. However, I’ll always hold in my heart the camaraderie of Team Rainin.