Beverly Ann Russell, respected national, Native American Leader, shopper extraordinaire, beloved wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, died on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014.
Beverly was a precocious, fiercely loyal child to a small group of friends from Holy Angels through Globe High School. Beverly competed with them, confided with them and challenged the status quo with them, establishing incredibly high standards for others to follow.
Beverly’s desire to lead a life that would allow her to positively impact her San Carlos Apache community led her to courageously leave the safe confines of Arizona and travel to South Orange, New Jersey to attend Seton Hall University, where she double majored in Political Science and Anthropology. During this time, Beverly formed a life-long friendship with Nicole, Carrese and Amy.
This friendship reminded her of Winnie the Pooh and friends with each of them playing a vital, but always-changing, role of the characters. She shared an apartment in New Jersey with these three friends for several years. During this time, Beverly began her professional career at the American Indian Community House in New York City, where she served as the Outreach Education Director.
She graduated from Seton Hall University in 1996, becoming the first in her family to earn her bachelor’s degree. While at Seton Hall, Beverly was a walk-on member of the Seton Hall Debate team which was ranked #1 in the United States at the time. She also was convinced that education and academic success were extremely important for all American Indian people. Beverly became an advocate and activist for post-secondary education, beginning with challenging her own family to attend and finish college.
In 1999 Beverly received the prestigious Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Native American Health and Welfare Policy Fellowship, which placed her on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs as a Legislative Aide to Senator Daniel K. Inouye. Beverly contributed to many important policies for American Indians/Alaska Natives, beginning with the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. She honed her political savviness and studied American Indian policy and politics during this time.
Beverly served as the Executive Director for the National Council of Urban Indian Health in Washington, D. C. in 2001.
During her tenure, she engaged 34 Urban Indian communities in the strategic development of the national organization and securing its place among other NGOs such as the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB). As a result, Beverly earned a place with the Kellogg Foundation of Emerging Leaders in Public Health Fellowship. As a young, Native American professional leader, Beverly established herself as someone to watch, as noted by the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian and USA Today recognizing her as one of the “Top Seven American Indian Leaders of Tomorrow.”
Beverly married her soul mate, D. J. Lott, in the spring of 2006. Their love story is highlighted by their creation of a family crest, and mission and vision statements that they proudly shared in their wedding invitations. Beverly and D.J. shared many similarities in their lives from their education, career paths, travels to their shared desire to contribute to improving the lives of American Indians. Their love for each other is an example to everyone who was able to witness it.
Beverly and D. J. relocated to San Carlos, where Beverly served as the Chief of Staff/Senior Advisor to the Vice Chairman, successfully running his election campaign.
She later helped him initiate tribal-wide initiatives designed to benefit the most people possible from the San Carlos Apache community. Beverly set an extremely high standard for all tribal leaders to follow; some tribal leaders are trying to meet those high standards, unfortunately, some are not.
Beverly began working with First Things First as the Tribal Coordinator for the San Carlos Apache region to provide early childhood development strategies for the San Carlos Apache tribal region. Beverly was promoted to the Senior Director of Tribal Affairs for First Things First, where she primarily worked on establishing effective strategies for honoring the government-to-government relations between state agencies and tribal nations. Beverly was active in several national non-profit agencies and organizations. She was a board member for Community Health Action and the National Indian Women’s Health Resource Committee. She was also a member of the Beta Pi Chapter of the first Native American Sorority, Alpha Pi Omega.
Beverly is survived by her parents, Earl Russell Sr. and Lorraine Key Russell; husband, D.J. Lott; siblings, Vonda Russell, Earlene Kayson, Tracy Russell and Earl Russell Jr.; nephew, Danny Hernandez and nieces Alexis Salter and Ashley Kayson. Beverly was preceded in death by her sister, Katherine Nicole Russell.
Because Beverly was such a strong, independent and unique force, she requested and received a unique Celebration of Life/Funeral Service held on March 1, 2014. There was a giant white tent instead of tins, tears of joy and many good memories shared. Beverly was a brilliant, strong, beautiful spirit that will not be forgotten. She lived her life to the fullest, evidenced by the honors and accolades she received. She laughed with family and friends during many family trips and outings. She traveled the world in her efforts to help raise the awareness and the standards for Native Americans.
She is respected and loved by many worldwide and she loved her family, friends and husband dearly in return. Beverly will be missed, but her legacy will live on in the numerous lives she positively influenced. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to an animal charity such as the humane society at www.humanesociety.org or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at www.aspca.org .