Russ was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania and raised with four siblings in rural Lebanon County. After graduating from Northern Lebanon High School and Lebanon County Vo-Tech in 1981, he entered the work force in a manufacturing facility. Seven years later, he chose to pursue a career as a musician.
His experiences as a musician led him to open a recording studio in the Lebanon area in late 1992. The business subsequently gained regional acclaim and has been transformed into the nationally known CD and DVD manufacturing and duplication service known as Raintree.
Russ founded PACleanSweep in July 2005 in response to the infamous midnight pay raise enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The organization fielded more than 110 candidates for legislative seats during the historic 2006 election cycle and helped turn over 24 percent of the General Assembly.
Along the way, the group was instrumental in the first-ever ouster of a sitting state Supreme Court justice at a retention election and the stunning repeal of the pay raise. PACleanSweep was awarded the "Golden Dot" for the Best PAC or Non-Partisan Internet Campaign of 2005 by George Washington University’s Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet.
In January 2006, Russ was named one of three "Citizens of the Year" by the Philadelphia Inquirer - along with activists Gene Stilp and Tim Potts - for their collective efforts in helping to force the pay raise repeal in November 2005. In July 2006, the three were recognized - along with fellow activist Eric Epstein - with the "Public Service Achievement Award" from Common Cause/Pennsylvania.
The four were recognized once again in November 2006, receiving the "Communicator of the Year" award from the Harrisburg chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.
A licensed private pilot since 2001, Russ serves as president of the Annville Flight Club.
He resides in Annville, Lebanon County in a home his great-grandparents built.