Posted on Oct 17, 2007
John M Grau
One of NECA’s greatest success stories is our creation of the Electrical Contracting Foundation, which today is known as ELECTRI International – The Foundation for Electrical Construction, Inc. A chief architect of that success is Foundation president, Russ Alessi.
Shortly after ELECTRI International was established in 1989, it became evident that if this new organization to succeed, it required full-time staff leadership. At the time, Russ was heading the educational foundation for the National Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (NAPHCC), which he also helped create. Since the NAPHCC foundation was a great success and served as one of the models for NECA’s foundation, we went right to the source for guidance – and we were lucky enough to convince Russ to work for NECA. The rest is history still in the making.
Less than 20 years later, ELECTRI International itself now serves as a model for other organizations. The Foundation has created a permanent endowment valued at $20 million and has commissioned over 100 research studies with grants totaling $6 million. In addition, the Foundation has added an education center, an international center, and a scholarship fund.
As Foundation president, Russ established the processes for selecting and managing dozens of research projects simultaneously, all the while maintaining relationships with universities around the country and seeking new industry research partners.
But Foundation president isn’t the only job Russ does for NECA. He is also NECA’s first Executive Director of International Development, serving as our liaison with electrical contracting associations worldwide. He represents NECA at European and Asian electrical contracting association conferences, and he is instrumental in finding partners for NECA members doing work outside the United States. Russ has played an especially important role in cementing our relationships with contractors and their organizations in Mexico. Most recently he helped establish NECA chapters in Honduras and El Salvador.
On top of all this, Russ oversees NECA’s Management Education Institute and serves as Secretary of the Academy of Electrical Contracting. He was elected a fellow of the Academy in 2003.
Prior to joining the staff at NAPHCC, Russ owned a plumbing contracting business and even played some professional basketball in Europe. He earned his bachelors degree from Cansius College and holds a MBA degree from George Washington University.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Russ is married and has one child. His wife Roberta is an administrator with Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., and his son Andrew is a college sophomore. An avid Buffalo Bills fan, Russ also enjoys golf and scuba diving.