It’s a long way from the streets of Ventura to places like Kenya, and Indonesia where Lisa Russell produces films about global healthcare efforts.
The Emmy Award winning health advocate admits it was a very long, and unplanned path to her very unusual job, which combines her interests in healthcare and storytelling. Russell grew up in Ventura, and this week is returning to Ventura County for the screening of her latest film.
Russell went to Buena High School and Ventura College before heading to UC Santa Barbara. She decided she wanted to be a doctor. But, before applying to medical school, Russell wanted to experience living somewhere else, and moved to Boston. While attending an event at Harvard, she heard the story of a doctor who was trying to tackle the global HIV/AIDS crisis, and was so inspired she changed her career goals.
She got her Master’s Degree in public health, and worked overseas in places like Kosovo and Albania. Russell says the experience was incredible, but also felt the media was portraying the work in a much different way to the world. She says it always focused on the crisis, and the negativity, and not the incredible and inspiring accomplishments which were occurring.
That was a decade ago. She created Lisa Russell productions, which produces films for United Nations, and non-governmental agencies focused on healthcare issues, and programs around the world. Her latest film, “Heroines Of Health,” tries to put human faces on some of those healthcare efforts, telling the stories of three workers in impoverished countries around the world.
The filmmaker no longer lives in Ventura County, and is based in New York. But, she’s coming to the county this week for the first ever local screening of one of her movies.
Russell says she tries to get to as many screening as possible to foster discussion of global health care issues, and what we can do to help. “Heroines of Health” will be shown on Thursday at Cal State Channel Islands. The noon event at Ojai Hall is part of the university’s International Education Week, and is free and open to the public.