Volunteer Spotlight: Kara Russell

Volunteer Spotlight: Kara Russell

Tell us about your professional/educational background.
I spent 8 years living in Dallas, TX where I was a massage therapist before moving back to upstate NY where I am originally from. When I came back, I took a bit of a different path and went to school for Esthetics. I spent 9 years working as a medical esthetician before having my last child in 2018. Since that time, I traded in the treatment room to become a stay-at-home mom.

What makes the National CMV Foundation's mission powerful for you?
The mission to eliminate CMV in the US for the next generation is so powerful to me because parents, children, and families, should not have to suffer with the wide array of complications and devastation that can come with this diagnosis. Prevention and elimination are key!

What made you decide to get more involved with the National CMV Foundation, as a Community Alliance Chair? 
Our daughter was diagnosed with cCMV relatively late and when we found out, we were in a true state of shock. For a variety of reasons, but mostly because we had never heard of CMV, despite having 3 children. I immediately took everything I was feeling and wanted to use it to do good. I want to help spread awareness so that no other parent can ever say “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

In your role as CMV Community Alliance Chair, what goals have you set for 2024?
My main goal currently is to see widespread newborn CMV screening to be mandatory. I also want every woman to be provided with information pertaining to CMV at initial prenatal visits.

What does success look like to you?
Success looks like making an impact on something you believe in.

What motivates you?
When it comes to this cause, I would say there are 2 main driving forces that motivate me. My kids foremost and secondly, if I’m being honest, the strong emotions I feel attached to CMV.

As a volunteer leader, what advice do you have for people who want to work on CMV advocacy, but don’t know where to start?
Just start! Don’t put that much thought into it because really, it isn’t that deep. If you feel that drive to do something, just go. Everything will fall into place. Also, the CMV community is truly unlike any other I have ever seen. You will never feel alone or without support.

Favorite quote? 
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”
-The Lorax

What do you like most about living in New York?
I enjoy the change in seasons (although winter is my least favorite) and where we are in upstate, we have the lake and many other great outdoor trails and areas to explore.
You're happiest when?
I am most happiest when traveling, spending time with family, playing with the kids (especially in the summer) and any quality time I can get with girlfriends!