Community Diversity Featured Women

TU working to make Kerri Russell's equity vision a reality

Kerri Russell was a tireless advocate for TU's diversity practice. Her loss left a hole in our hearts, but her vision of a more equitable TU will be realized through the Kerri Russell Equity Fund.

For 60 years, Trout Unlimited has engaged millions of people in our ambitious mission to conserve, protect and restore coldwater fisheries. We rely on local participation to inform our science, advocate for trout and salmon and restore rivers and streams. The engagement of diverse, whole communities is critical to ensuring that robust populations of trout and salmon once again thrive in their native range.

Our impact has been meaningful, but achieving our mission remains impossible without the unencumbered participation of all people.

We can, and will, do better. Thanks to the vision and memory of one of our leading volunteers on diversity, Kerri Russell, and with your support, we will drive this important work forward together.

The Kerri Russell Equity Fund will honor the legacy of a volunteer who passed away in May, but has left a lasting and meaningful impact on our equity and inclusion work through her decade-long commitment. The fund — launched with a $25,000 gift from Kerri’s family — will be used to expand TU’s equity practice across the entire organization. Board, staff, members and volunteers will honor Kerri’s memory by engaging more people from more backgrounds in our love for conservation, fishing and the Trout Unlimited mission.

Kerri Russell led the way in relentless pursuit of TU’s equity practice, yet she always took the long view: Plant the seeds now and the garden will grow.

“Kerri was a pioneer in promoting diversity and inclusion at Trout Unlimited,” said Chris Wood, TU’s president and CEO. “In a very real way, Kerri’s work and passion are helping to change the face of our organization.”

Kerri Russell led the way in relentless pursuit of TU’s equity practice, yet she always took the long view: Plant the seeds now and the garden will grow.

When you give to honor Kerri, you help cultivate this work in impactful and meaningful ways. With your support, we will deepen TU’s inclusive and equitable culture and engage more women and people of color by investing in:

  • Opportunities for volunteers and staff to develop equity-related competencies through small group learning and workshops.
  • Supporting local, chapter-led partnerships with groups and communities historically underrepresented at TU.
  • Improving equitable communications and marketing organization-wide through staff and volunteer training.
  • The systems to support recruiting and hiring a more diverse staff to better reflect the communities where we work.

We will move forward with our multi-year plans in a thoughtful but intensive manner. To fully fund our work, including staffing to support our chapters, we are looking to raise $600,000-$700,000 per year for three years. That amount will be challenging, but it is achievable.

We are asking those who knew Kerri and those who care deeply about equity, to dig deep. Any gift you make will help move us forward. Whether you give $100, $1,000, or more, you will be investing in a future for Trout Unlimited that is more diverse, equitable and inclusive.

By Jeff Yates. A Trout Unlimited member since age 11, Jeff is a passionate conservationist and avid angler who sees opportunities to care for and recover our rivers and streams at every turn. As the Director of Volunteer Operations, Jeff and his team support, train and lead the more than 420 local chapters and state councils of TU across the country and are priveleged to work with the more than 4,000 volunteers who lead them as board and committee members. An author, fly fishing guide and avid outdoors person, Jeff lives in Connecticut with his wife Kit, and step-daughters Katie and Kat as well as their three rescue dogs, Tahoe, Sparrow and Jack. When he's not at his desk - or out in the field working with volunteers - Jeff splits his time boulder hopping along small native Brook Trout streams and hiking rocky terrain.