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Tennessee Auto Dealer Establishes Family Legacy of Giving through NADA Foundation

Ted Russell names his wife and five grandchildren as Ambassadors of National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation

Ted Russell receives honorary doctorate Randall O’Brien (right), president of Carson-Newman College, presents Ted Russell with an honorary Doctorate in Business Administration during spring commencement in May 2010.

Business Building at Carson-Newman College Named After Ted Russell

– Over the years, new-car dealer Ted Russell has contributed millions of dollars to his alma mater, Carson-Newman College, which is a private, liberal arts institution with about 2,100 students in Jefferson City, Tenn.

“Ted Russell is one of our most distinguished graduates. In East Tennessee, his name is synonymous with integrity and success,” said Randall O’Brien, president of Carson-Newman College. “He is universally admired for his character, commitment and personal and professional excellence.”

After serving on the college’s board of trustees for 14 years and as past chairman, Russell, who majored in accounting and economics with a minor in finance, said it became evident that a revitalized business program was needed to attract students to the program.

College administrators didn’t have to look far to find a financial donor to help pay the construction costs of building a new business facility.

“I just felt a calling to do what I could to try to help the college provide a good environment and get students interested in the business school,” said Russell, who contributed $1 million in 2010. The business building was named Ted Russell Hall that same year.

“Ted’s generous financial gifts to his alma mater have helped us aid needy students who wish to study business, equip classrooms with the latest technology and provide a state-of-the-art business school,” O’Brien added. “His multi-million dollar gifts have not only given birth to Ted Russell Hall, but have allowed the college to direct funds to other areas of need on the campus. Having Ted Russell’s name associated with our business program instantly associates us with the image of excellence.”

Carson-Newman College is located about 40 miles east of Russell’s dealerships in Knoxville. He sells Ford, Lincoln, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Isuzu Trucks and Kia brand vehicles and runs an independent, used-car dealership. 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 6, 2012) – Ted Russell leads by example when it comes to supporting his community and giving to others. Since 2007, Russell has named seven Ambassadors of the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation. They include his wife, Drama, their five grandchildren, Joshua, Andrew, Ashley, Phillip and Katherine, and one for himself.

Russell, a new-car dealer in Knoxville, Tenn., wants his grandchildren to get in the giving spirit, develop an attitude of giving to others and make a decision on a worthwhile cause where to contribute the money.

Russell, NADA's director from Tennessee, chose his alma mater, Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., to receive his annual $2,000 gift from the NADA Foundation’s Ambassadors program. The money will be used for maintenance and repair of the business school, which was built in 2010. His wife and two grandchildren will present their first grants this year.

“I feel that every person wants to make a contribution in life. They want to leave this world feeling that they’ve made the world a better place,” Russell added. “The Ambassadors program is a good way to give back, especially to the community that you’ve lived and worked in all your life.”

To become an NADA Foundation Ambassador, a dealer, company, association or individual makes a tax-deductible contribution of $10,000 in their name or in recognition of a loved one, living or deceased. Ambassadors are then eligible to provide $1,500 grants every three years in perpetuity. Benefactors with three gifts of $10,000 to the program receive the title, Ambassadors of Distinction, and can present $2,000 grants every year in perpetuity.

The NADA Foundation’s Ambassadors Program

Today, there are 579 Ambassadors who provide about $250,000 to organizations each year in the public or private sector, supporting a variety of causes from emergency medical services and education to job training for adults with disabilities. This year, 135 Ambassadors will present grants to organizations of their choice. To date, more than $1 million has been donated to organizations across the country through the program. For more information or to become an Ambassador, contact the NADA Foundation at (703) 821-7102 or

About the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation

The NADA Foundation, established in 1975, is the philanthropic arm of the National Automobile Dealers Association. Funds contributed by new-car and -truck dealers and friends of the industry provide financial support to schools, private colleges and universities, emergency disaster relief as well as community service programs. For more information, visit


Charles Cyrill
Director of Public Relations
NADA Public Affairs
(216) 870-8837 (m)
(703) 821-7121 

Amanda Deluca
Public Relations Specialist
NADA Public Affairs
(703) 760-7578