Odyssey House Louisiana (OHL) is a nonprofit behavioral health care provider with an emphasis on addiction treatment. OHL was established in 1973 as a nonprofit residential substance abuse treatment facility with the mission of empowering people to conquer addiction. Today, Odyssey House offers a professional, structured and caring Therapeutic Community with comprehensive services and effective support systems that enable individuals to chart new lives and return to their communities as contributing members.
A United Way Partner Agency
“I have a lot of past,” OHL Board Member Russell Carll says, referring to his litany of professional designations and volunteer activities that denote past participation. “That’s what happens when you get old,” he says. And while Russ does have quite an impressive resume that documents numerous years of community service, his quick wit and good-humored disposition tell you that he is as spry and young at heart as they come.
Originally from California, Russ has lived in numerous cities, spending his formative years in Chicago and graduating from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois before moving to St. Paul, Minnesota for a job with the technology company 3M. Russ moved to New Orleans in the early 1960’s and, for the past 30 years, has worked in the insurance and investment business for Sunset Financial Services.
Russ previously served as a board member of United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area, which is where he learned about the United Way agency Odyssey House Louisiana. Discrimination and drugs are what Russ identifies as the two major problems facing society, and was drawn to OHL because he felt that this organization could really make a difference in the community. “Although everyone is affected by substance abuse at some time in their life, I didn’t have any significant family issues with addiction,” Russ says. “That’s why I am so passionate about this issue; I know that I am so lucky and many others out there didn’t have the good fortune I was blessed with.”
Russ joined the board in 2002 when OHL was one-third of the size it is today and he entertains a vision of an Odyssey House in all 50 states one day.
Russ operates daily on what he calls a “corny” motto: You will get back 100 fold what you give to others. It’s not corny if it’s true.
One of Russ’ ways of giving back is calling upon his clown alter ego who goes by the name of Professor Past. Professor Past travels to various senior citizen homes and assisted living facilities to perform skits and tell jokes for the elderly residents.
Russ has been married for 41 years to his wife Angela. They have three children and two grandchildren whom Russ describes as “perfect.”
Russ is also currently a board member of the Innocence Project of Louisiana, which works to identify and remedy cases and causes of wrongful conviction. He also serves as a member of the City of New Orleans Human Relations Commission, a Municipal Agency that enforces the City's Human Relations Rights Laws.