Meet the 2024 Four Pillar Honorees

Herman J. Russell Sr., Donata Russell Ross, H. Jerome Russell, and Michael Russell Sr.

Building Atlanta: The Story of Herman J. Russell

“Building Atlanta: The Story of Herman J. Russell” is a documentary film about the inspiring life and legacy of Atlanta businessman and founder of one of the United States’ largest black-owned commercial real estate development and construction firms. The nearly hour-long film took more than a year to produce and features interviews with notable Atlantans, who knew Herman J. Russell well.

Family patriarch Herman J. Russell Sr. is no longer with us physically, but his impact and presence are felt throughout Atlanta that he helped to build. Mr. Russell was a trailblazer. He developed some of the most monumental buildings in the city and the country along with a conglomeration of multimillion-dollar businesses before passing the baton to the next generation, his three adult children, Donata Russell Ross, H. Jerome Russell, and Michael Russell. Together they are carrying on their father’s legacy while expanding and leaving their own footprint as Georgia’s leading African American family in construction, real estate, airport concessions, technology, and philanthropy.

As the 10th anniversary of Mr. Russell’s passing approaches, to be honored by the Council for Quality Growth is a fitting tribute. The Russell family embodies the Council’s Four Pillars of vision, integrity, responsibility, and quality in all that they do.

Donata has been a guiding force as CEO of Concessions International, which specializes in airport food and beverage concessions at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the most traveled in the world, and other airports throughout the US. With her 40-plus years of experience at CI, she has solidified the company’s reputation as one of the best in the industry. She is also president of the Herman J. Russell Foundation and serves on the board of H.J. Russell Company, Concessions International, Early Learning Property Management and the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs, also known as RICE. Donata is a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Jerome is president of Russell New Urban Development that leads the family’s strategic direction and new business development focus.  He oversees the company’s real estate portfolio and chairs the Herman J. Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE).  In addition to real estate development, Jerome has experience in property management, beverage distribution, logistics and banking.  Jerome serves on the boards of H. J. Russell & Company, Concessions International, RICE, the Georgia Historical Society, Central Atlanta Progress, Urban Land Institute, Atlanta Rotary, Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and the Carter Center, among others.

Michael has been CEO of H.J. Russell & Company for 21 years. Before he was appointed to the helm of the largest African American-owned real estate and construction business in America, Michael learned every facet of the company, particularly the construction and program management divisions. Michael’s civic involvement includes serving on the boards of Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Georgia Research Alliance and the NACD. He is on the executive committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, The Atlanta Committee For Progress and is a member of the Atlanta Rotary Club, AEC Unites, and 100 Black Men of Atlanta. In carrying on the family tradition, the Russells are laser-focused on uplifting the Atlanta community through their philanthropic efforts while preparing the next generation, G3, to continue the Russell legacy of building quality structures and communities that stand the test of time.

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