Location: New York
Russell Hanks joined Horizon in 2015 as senior advisor for Africa, specializing in Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Russell earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 1977 before embarking on his career. After stints in the construction, textile, printing and power industries, as well as working with a labor union and consulting on employment issues, micro-economic development and political campaigns, he earned a master’s degree in public administration at Northern Arizona University in 1987. He then joined the State Department in 1988.
With a knack for understanding the internal political dynamics in organizations and governments, he spent over 25 years as a diplomat. He filled Foreign Service leadership positions on four continents, experiencing plane crashes, hostage rescues, social upheaval, coups and insurgencies.
During this time, he was tasked with applying his leadership and negotiating skills to the coordination of the interests of the US government with a variety of international organizations and private companies. The challenges he faced included crisis resolution, logistical and administrative problems, and political disputes across the interagency spectrum. He coordinated strategic and tactical planning and communications with NATO facilities, the US European and African Commands, USAID, DOT, HSA, DOE and other agencies in a variety of operations around the globe.
In between other assignments, Russell was sent to the National Defense University, where he earned a master’s degree in national resource strategy in 2008. Through it all, his calm demeanor and sense of humor served to empower his colleagues, helping to focus on results in any situation. Along the way, Russell learned Portuguese, Arabic, and smatterings of numerous other languages.