Title and Organization:
With a passion for opportunity democratization, youth advocacy, and environmental defense and superpowers that include building direct-to-consumer mission-driven businesses, managing geographically distributed teams, and grappling with the challenges of rapid growth, Russ Pillar has spent most of the last three decades running some of the world's best loved and well-known consumer brands.
Russ founded and currently serves as Executive Chairman of Reigning Champs, the world’s largest and most successful path-to-college company for student-athletes. With 6 million high school and collegiate student-athletes in a proprietary network powered by 900+ teammates and relationships with more than 40,000 active college coaches across all NCAA divisions and the NAIA, Reigning Champs is a profit+purpose company, helping place more than 95,000 student-athletes across 34 sports in college—while providing $23 million of test preparation, counseling, and advisory services free of charge to those student-athletes most in need—all in the last year alone. Russ also is Senior Advisor to Mubadala Investment Company, the sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi), where he helps initiate, evaluate, and manage investment opportunities globally.
Prior to founding Reigning Champs, Russ was Co-owner, President, and Director of the Los Angeles Marathon; President of the Viacom Digital Media Group; President and Chief Executive Officer of the CBS Internet Group; President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Entertainment Group; President and Vice Chairman of Prodigy Internet/Prodigy Communications Corporation; and President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Paul Allen’s Precision Systems.
Russ has been a member of the Board of Directors or a Board Observer of more than three dozen for-profit public and private consumer-facing sports, media, retail, education, services, and technology companies including CBS SportsLine.com, the Los Angeles Marathon, the Virgin Entertainment Group, TiVo, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball, and Zumba Fitness, among others. His mission-driven non-profit activities have included Board of Directors service at Running USA (where he created and chaired their National Youth Running Initiative), Heal the Bay, The Nature Conservancy (Idaho), the Ocean Institute, and the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities (Florida).
Russ graduated Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude from Brown University where he played on the University’s men’s rugby team, coached its women’s rugby team, and was a National Finalist in the Rhodes Scholarship Competition. Over the past three decades he’s served Brown on its President’s Leadership Council, its Creative Arts Advisory Council, and its Entrepreneurship Program Board of Directors; he currently is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Brown University Sports Foundation. The Brown Alumni Monthly named him one of the 100 alumni who had the greatest impact on the 20th century.
Russ is a 2002 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.