Meet the Team


Derek Russell
Executive Director and Founder

Derek Russell is a queer environmental sociologist and architect, with a background in interdisciplinary artmaking. With experience as a vernacular architect, he has been conducting research on sustainable building materials that adapt to climate disaster in the Ecuadorian Amazon with the indigenous Seikopai tribe. Seeing climate adaptation as a multifaceted issue intertwined with cultural resilience, he has served as the invited graphic artist of indigenous women’s entrepreneurial group Kẹñao. Together they have conducted cultural preservation projects uniting two communities separated in a border dispute between Ecuador and Peru. These workshops focus on native pottery-making techniques and business tactics. Derek received his Bachelors of Architecture (B.Arch) from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a minor in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies.

Derek worked as a policy-writer for Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab. Having worked directly with politicians and Sunrise Movement, he sought a new way to communicate environmental topics, relying on empathy and artmaking to drive storytelling. He has further developed this practice with the creation of non-profit Creature Conserve’s Mentorship Program, connecting established artists with burgeoning artists in order to foster informed artmaking on environmental topics. With his interdisciplinary background, he works across mediums, including illustration, writing, architecture, and documentary filmmaking (including collaboration with oscar-nominated directors and the arts non-profit UnionDocs Center for Documentary Arts).

Learn more about Derek at derekscottrussell.com

Contact Derek at derek@climigrantssketchbook.org