ABCD Institute > Institute Faculty > Active Faculty > Cormac Russell

Cormac Russell

Cormac is Managing Director of Nurture Development and a faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago. He has trained communities, agencies, NGOs and governments in ABCD and other strengths based approaches in Kenya, Southern Sudan, South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Canada and Australia.

In January 2011 Cormac was appointed to the Expert Reference Group on Community Organising and Communities First, by Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society in the UK.

Some current/recent examples of his national and international work include the following:

  • Leading all national sporting organisations in Canada, in conjunction with the Canadian Council for Ethics in Sport, to adopt a shared vision as to how sport can become an asset for community building. This is effecting significant changes in the structures of major sporting organisations but also at a local community level in terms of community empowerment and citizen driven development.
  • Working closely with I&Dea in the UK, advising them on the development of an asset based approach to health and on addressing health inequalities in low income communities. Advising on their ground breaking report: The Glass Half Full: how an assets approach can improve community health and well being.
  • Leading out a national programme in partnership with Youth Work Ireland in promoting a strengths based approach to working with young people. This will involve hundreds of youth practitioners and thousands of young citizens, leading to the development of a strong culture of youth led initiatives.
  • Working in partnership with the University of Limerick and Atlantic Philanthropies in Ireland to infuse an ABCD approach across the entire city of Limerick. Part of this process involved organising an entire neighbourhood to address issues of loneliness, fear and intimidation and to support citizen driven development. The long-term vision is of a city that puts citizens and communities in the driving seat, through processes of neighbourhood organising and bottom up planning and where services are organised in the way in which community is organised. This aligns closely to the Seattle model.
  • Ongoing adviser to Dublin City Council on the implementation of the Council’s Community Development and Neighbourhood Revitalisation Strategy.
  • He sits on the Health Empowerment Leverage Project steering group, which was commissioned by the Department of Health (UK) this year to demonstrate the business case for wider use of community-based methods of health improvement.

Cormac holds degrees in philosophy and psychology and is also an accredited civil and commercial mediator with the ADR group. He uses these and other skills and processes including World Café, Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space Technology alongside strength based thinking to support those with whom he works to move towards inclusive, actionable change.

Other examples of Cormac’s work are available on Nurture Development’s website at​

To see Cormac presenting on ABCD and social inclusion visit

To here Cormac being interviewed about ABCD and the Big Society visit

“Cormac has supported the development of Local Government Improvement and Development’s recent thinking and activity on Asset Based Community Development. His international knowledge and experience in this approach has been a valuable ‘asset’ to this organisation.”- Trevor Hopkins – Principal Consultant, Healthy Communities