The Dawn Russell Foundation is an advocacy and mobilization campaign to educate girls and increase young women's confidence and positive achievement. It has never been harder to be a confident and independent young woman, and Dawn Russell seeks to engage this audience in a new way to better understand the challenges and solutions today's young women face.


The Dawn Russell Foundation supports charities focused on helping young girls. The message she is taking to young girls is not new but is so much harder to get across with the increasing noise of all these material messages. She is working to help them in this world of constant and intense self expectation.


Although this may not seem important when the world is confronting issues like genocide, climate change, poverty and disease; we must realize these girls are our next generation of leaders, mothers, soldiers, doctors—The people this world will need to face its challenges. They need to find their self confidence.


Foundation Timeline



Dawn Russell was asked by a family friend to speak this his daughter's high school to share her story of cancer. The goal was to give young women another perspective besides their troubled role models such as Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse. What was scheduled to be a 10 minute assembly speech evolved into an all day affair going from class to class meeting with groups and individual girls. Through word of mouth, speaking requests quickly grew. Dawn Russell self funded a tour of speaking at high schools, colleges, hospitals, conferences, and joined CAA for them to assist with her work.



Russell was asked to sit on board of Beth Israel Hospital's Integrative Center to act as patient advocate and voice of experience.



Russell had a page on empowering young women who are struggling with the everyday pressures of their own lives.



Russell joined Donna Karan in establishing the health initiative, Urban Zen.



Dawn wanted to reach a wider range of girls so she could focus on her personal family responsibilities. Russell agreed to become the spokesperson for Estee Lauder's teen fragrance, C-Thru, which was a top selling Christmas fragrance sold at Kmart, Kohls and Wal-Mart. Girls are going to shop regardless so why not give them a positive message with their purchase. Russell's entire salary went to the Dawn Russell Foundation



Currently working on a collection of interviews. Russell has interviewed her friends who have achieved success in their fields while clearly retaining their own sense of self. Dawn is not alone in caring about this issue, and all these other women have great stories to share from various points in their lives the help the current generation of young women make similar choices.

  • Christy Turlington, supermodel, activist, mother and pursuing master degree at Columbia University in maternal health.
  • Alexandra Asseily, leader in the rebuilding of post-civil war Beirut and founder of Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Rwanda, and Detroit.
  • Diane Sawyer, ABC journalist, anchor of ABC’s World News, and named by Forbes as one of the "The 100 Most Powerful Women".
  • Pamela Hanson, world famous fashion photographer.
  • Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent.
  • Tracey Ullman, British comedian, actor, writer and creator of Showtime’s “The Tracey Ullman Show”.
  • Sako Fisher, member of founding family of Gap Inc. Graduated Cum Laude from Stanford and then chose less obvious path of motherhood and family.
  • Trudi Loren, biochemist and "nose" creator of all Estee Lauder scents.
  • Anna Harvey, head of all new markets at Condé Nast worldwide.
  • Debra Shriver, Chief Communication Officer of the Hearst Corporation.
  • Bobbi Brown, CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics sold in over 400 stores in twenty countries worldwide.



Dawn Russell helped the British Government start a program focused on helping budding businesswomen succeed in the UK.







Vanity Fair nominates Dawn Russell to the Hall of Fame explaining her work as spokesperson for the new teen fragrance by the Estee Lauder companies, and how her earnings are going into her foundation focused on helping teen girls.


Because she helps girls get comfortable in their own skin. Dawn, Lady Russell—who grew up in Oregon, Mexico, Paris, Massachusetts, and Manhattan—has in her time been a prepster, an aspiring journalist, a model, a motorhead (she’s raced Formula One cars), and the wife of a British aristocrat (her husband, environmental investor, Lord James Russell, is the Duke of Bedford’s younger brother). Yet Russell’s defining identity has been that of cancer patient. Diagnosed at 25 with a potentially fatal case of Stage III skin cancer, Russell, too debilitated to withstand traditional chemo or radiation, dedicated four post-operative years to investigating non-Western treatments.


“Through the process of healing myself, I found my passion in Eastern medicine,” she says. “It gave me my center, my anchor.” After talking at a San Francisco high school about her medical odyssey, Russell chanced upon another calling—inspiring young teenage girls “to become confident young women. For girls today, the whole equation is backwards. They have so much coming at them—reality shows, celebrity weeklies, boys, grades, parents—they end up confusing their self-worth with getting the right bag and the perfect hair.” The demand for Russell’s heart-to-heart speeches became so overwhelming that she decided “to do something on a mass scale, with sponsorship.” Enter Estee Lauder, with whom Russell is collaborating on a trio of teen fragrances called C-Thru, which will debut in January. As the perfume’s spokesperson, Russell, 33, will contribute her earnings to the Dawn Russell Foundation, devoted to helping adolescent girls develop self-respect. “I didn’t go through a really dark path for nothing. I have a responsibility, a lot to share. Who knows where it will go?” In the meantime, don’t expect to see Russell’s elegant face gracing the C-Thru ad campaign. “I don’t want to be famous,” she demurs. More likely, you will find Russell in an Ashtanga-yoga studio quietly practicing her asanas—or maybe, someday, for therapy of a less Zen variety: burning rubber on the M5 in her “dream car, an Aston Martin DB5.”

Vanity Fair


Exclusive first press release of Dawn's role as spokesperson for the new teen fragrance C-thru by the Estee Lauder Companies.


The brand's spokeswoman is Lady Dawn Russell, a former model who was diagnosed with stage-three cancer at age 25. Now 33, she is cancer-free, but said she wants to encourage young women not to waste time feeling bad about themselves. "So many young women feel separate, like they're the only ones who are insecure," said Russell. "I want to help them find their center, their anchor." In lieu of compensation for her role in this project, Russell is establishing a foundation dedicated to increasing self-esteem for young women.



"Dawn is an influential voice in helping young women learn to be proud of who they are," Robin Mason, Vice President of Global Marketing says.






Dawn Russell, a Lady in England, to promote empowerment and self confidence in youth today


New York, NY (September 2008) – Aramis and Designer Fragrances, a division of a subsidiary of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., today announced that they are working with Dawn Russell, a Lady in England, to promote the message of the C-THRU Fragrance brand.  


“Dawn is an influential voice in helping young women learn to be proud of who they are,” Robin Mason, Vice President of Global Marketing says.  “By sharing her story of overcoming adversity, she is teaching them the tools they need to fight their own struggles – social, physical or emotional – so they can really find strength in themselves, which is what C-THRU is all about,” Mason adds.  “To have these young women think about her when they put on their fragrance every single day is reinforcing a powerful message.”

The women in Inheriting Beauty are serious people, they have careers, they care for their families, and they raise millions of dollars each year for charities. Dawn's chapter in this book profiles her work with young girls.


When American-born Dawn Russell turned 25, she was diagnosed with stage III metastatic melanoma and underwent four surgeries. After contracting a dangerous bone infection during her surgery, she could not undergo chemotherapy or radiation. Instead of giving up hope, Dawn set out on a three-year journey traveling the globe to research Eastern medicine for a potential cure. She now devotes her time and knowledge to helping young girls with their struggles, ranging from relationships to addiction and self-esteem issues. She writes a column for and is working on a book for teenagers. Her husband is Jamie Russell, an environmental venture capitalist.


My mother has been involved in the Tibetan movement my whole life. Having the Dalai Lama and his monks visit us from a young age, I was taught and always reminded through example the power of calm, precise, focused attention. My childhood was like a cocktail, a bit of everything, East Coast, West Coast, and Europe. While I became very schooled at adapting to new cultures, what I remember most are independence and self-assurance.




The women in Inheriting Beauty are serious people, they have careers, they care for their families and they raise millions of dollars each year for charities… The women of Inheriting Beauty have let their hair down… They walk in the streets, they are of this world and not above it… he has asked the women to just be themselves, to dress as they would at home, and to let him capture them in real time. They obliged, and he was not disappointed. He anticipated beauty, and he found it, plus an abundance of grace, elegance, and generous good manners. Getting away from the smoke and mirrors of a world maddened by celebrity culture, in the social firmament, in private lives, he discovered “a modern royalty and a modern luxury” – a luxury, as Moenks’ delightful book reminds us, that is “the freedom of being so alive and having the choices to do what you want.”

Inheriting Beauty


Honored as one of Vogue's four power players of the year for her work with integrative medicine. A four page story details Dawn's medical journey. Among a group of cancer survivors such as Kylie Minogue and Sam Taylor-Wood, Dawn discusses what she learned and is now doing because of her cancer experience.


Dawn Russell, a 33-year-old former model who lives in New York and London, and who developed Grade III melanoma that had metastasized to her lymph nodes at the age of 25, is among the cancer survivors who want to spread the message that life is short and special and comes with problems. She now works with a children's charity, going into schools across the US and talking to teenagers about their concerns. 'While I had all the external ornamentation of growing up in New York and the West Coast with periods abroad, private boarding schools and university, the twenty-something life in Manhattan, it is our inside core that must be our identity, not the external dressings,' she says. 'My scars of cancer are a constant reminder that life is about simplicity and grace, not quantity, the race to win in our capitalist society or the abyss of consumerism.'


There were several moments in the course of her treatment when it wasn't clear that she would survive. But looking back, there are things for which she is grateful. 'I met my husband [Lord Jamie Russell, brother of the Duke of Bedford] when I was at my sickest, so I'm grateful for that. When you get to the point where you can't contain your bowel movements on the street, perfection and approval hardly matter. When you get sick, you get a beautiful permission card that lets you revisit life. I spoke to some Lebanese friends who lived through the war, and talked about the warmth, camaraderie and laughter that the horrible periods brought. Look at 9/11? Why is it, that to get somewhere good, you have to have such a negative experience?' Unable to have either chemotherapy or radiotherapy, Russell dived headfirst into integrative medicine. 'It gave me a full experience of how cancer patients are poorly served by many aspects of our current medical system; this knowledge has driven me to the work I am doing now on the board of the Beth Israel Medical Center, and beyond,' she says.

Evening Standard


Russell sits on the Board of the Beth Israel Hospital Integrative Health Center and has had an Eastern influence in her life from an early age. Her mother was involved in the Tibetan Movement in America and had the Dali Lama's monks stay at her house.


Dawn Russell (USA) A 25 anni le viene diagnosicato un melanoma in metastasi. Lei non si arrende e gira il mondo per trovare una cura alternativa alla medicina ufficiale. Vice la sua battaglia, e oggi dedica il suo tempo ad aiutare ragazze colpite dal cancro, e membro del consiglio di amministrazione del Beth Israel Hospital, e dedita al volontariato, ja una rubrica su e sta scrivendo un libro per adolescenti.


"Mia madre e sempre stata impegnata a favore del popolo tibetano, il Dali Lama veniva spesso in visita da noi. Sono cresciuta seguendo la forza della quiete, anche se la mia adolescenza e stata come un cocktail: un mix di East Coast, West Coast ed Europa. Un periodo di crescita, indipendenza e fiducia in me stessa"

Evening Standard