Leon Russell retires from Pinellas County Office of Human Rights after 30+ years of dedicated service. 

IAOHRA would like to express its appreciation to Mr. Leon Russell for over 30 years of service to the citizens of Florida and a Life Time of Commitment to Civil and Human Rights.

Leon W. Russell currently serves as the Director of the Office of Human Rights for Pinellas County Government, Clearwater, Florida. His retirement is set for January 27, 2012.  He has held this post since January of 1977.  In this position Mr. Russell is responsible for implementing the county's Affirmative Action and Human Rights Ordinances. 

The Affirmative Action Ordinance provides for the development of a racially and sexually diverse workforce that reflects the general make up of the local civilian labor force.  This includes the implementation of the county's Equal Employment Opportunity Programs.  Programs involved in the implementation of this ordinance cover 6,800 employees in all the departments under the County Administrator and the five Constitutional Officers.  

The Pinellas County Human Rights Ordinance provides protection from illegal discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations for the county's 923,000 residents.  This ordinance has been deemed "substantially equivalent" to Title VIII of the 1968 Federal Fair Housing Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Over five hundred formal complaints of discrimination are filed under the ordinance annually.

Mr. Russell served as the President of the Florida State Conference of Branches of the NAACP from January 1996 until January 2000, after serving for fifteen years as the First Vice President.  He also serves as a member of the National Board of Directors of the NAACP, having been first elected in 1990. He has served that board as the assistant secretary and currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Board.  He is a member of the International City Management Association; a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators; a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies; Chair of the Minority issues Advisory Council of the Children’s Campaign of Florida; past President of the Alternative Human Services Board of Directors; volunteer for the United Way of Pinellas County; past Board Member of the Pinellas Opportunity Council, past President and Board Member of the National Association of Human Rights Workers; and as past President of the Florida Association Of Community Relations Professionals.  

In April of 1999, Mr. Russell became the Chairman of Floridians Representing Equity and Equality.  FREE was established as a statewide coalition to oppose the Florida Civil Rights Initiative, an anti-Affirmative Action proposal authored by Ward Connerly.  Ultimately, the initiative failed to get on the Florida Ballot, because of the strong legal challenge spearheaded by FREE. Mr. Russell has received numerous civic awards and citations.