Local Wooster families know Dr. Shellie Russell as a committed and loving pediatrician. But, what many don’t know is her legacy as one of the founders of the Wayne County Children’s Advocacy Center.
Having recently received the Wayne County Women’s Network Athena Award, it’s unlikely that will be the case any longer. The annual award recognizes local women who are inspirations to their community.
When Dr. Russell moved to Ohio 16 years ago from North Dakota. She had been involved in child advocacy there and wanted to continue her work here.
“I found a collection of people in Wooster who had the same interest,” she said. “I met with Dr. Daryl Steiner, the medical director of the CARE Center at Akron Children’s at the time, to learn more about the hospital’s child protection and child abuse prevention program. We had child abuse cases in Wooster, too, but our kids weren’t making it to Akron for care. It was clear we needed something similar in this community.”
At the same time Dr. Russell was trying to figure out a way to work with abused children, she was also working to build the newly opened Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics (ACHP) Wooster from the ground up as its solo physician.
“We were writing grants to get funding to build the center and slowly building my practice simultaneously,” she said.
Four years later her dream was realized when the Wayne County Children’s Advocacy Center came to fruition in 2004. Dr. Russell has served as the medical director of the center since its inception and sees her 2 jobs as the perfect complement to one another.
“I get to see kids in my pediatric practice and also teach adults how to be better parents,” she said. “Preventing child abuse is a priority for me.”
On May 12 Dr. Russell will be recognized with the Athena Award at the Wooster Inn.
According to Nikki Doulilis, operations supervisor of ACHP Wooster, “Working with Shellie is truly a joy. She empowers us to be our best every day.”
Bill Sheron, chief executive officer at Wooster Community Hospital, agrees.
“I have tremendous respect and admiration for Dr. Russell. She has never sought the limelight. However, her light has shone brightly and benefitted many people in the community.”
Dr. Russell recognizes it takes a team of multiple disciplines like children’s services, law enforcement, mental health providers and victim’s assistance professionals to help her do her job.
“Some days are sad and some days are happy,” she said. “Thankfully it all balances out.”