Leigh Russell is an accomplished sports administrator and director, having spent her career working with athletes, coaches and behind the scenes staff to ensure sustained high performance with AFL clubs – Hawthorn FC, Essendon FC, Gold Coast FC – as well as the AFLPA and the Melbourne Vixens.
Widely respected for her work that she has undertaken across people and culture, strategy development, and leadership of organisations, Leigh was the first woman to hold a senior executive position within an AFL Club and the youngest person ever to be appointed as the CEO of Netball Victoria.
Leigh’s no nonsense approach, commitment to values based leadership and ‘tell it like it is’ philosophy has seen her become a sought after speaker and Director on a number of boards. She is coach and mentor to many, passionately believing in the power of 1:1 nurture and support to assist people achieve their goals in life. Her desire to achieve and drive herself and others to greater levels of success is her ‘reason for being’.
Leigh runs a sports management consultancy business, working with teams and individuals to create and sustain high performance. Leigh also currently serves as Chair of Cricket Australia’s Player Welfare Committee, Chair of Tennis Victoria’s Nominations Committee, is the former Chair of Women’s Health West, and Board Director at both AFL SportsReady and the State Sport Centres Trust.
In 2015, Leigh launched the ‘The Ignition Project’ with Bianca Chatfield, focusing on inspiring women and girls by providing leadership and career programs without the fluff. She is also co-authoring a book with Bianca called Game On, due to be published in 2016.
Season one of THE RECRUIT was Leigh’s first foray into television, and saw her using her skills and experience to look after the contestants’ mental wellbeing. She returns for a second series in 2016, and is responsible for developing the Recruit’s mental strength and drive and preparing them for the rigors of an AFL life. She also assists any Recruits who are struggling with the ‘bubble’ environment and emotional stress.
Leigh has worked with some of the best players in the AFL, so she knows what makes a champion tick. Leigh will develop each Recruit into a mentally strong warrior, armed and ready to hurdle any setbacks, both on and off the field.
Leigh currently lives in Melbourne with her husband Andrew, who is the Elite Performance Manager at Hawthorn Football Club, and their three children.