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Great Women of Texas 2019: Mary Russell

Mary Russell

Chief of Administration/Managing Director Personal Insurance

Higginbotham Insurance Agency

Like many others in Fort Worth, Mary Russell got here courtesy of the United States Air Force.

She was born in El Paso and moved to Fort Worth in 1980 when her high school sweetheart and now-husband, Jay, was assigned to Carswell Air Force Base.

They fell in love with the city as a place to raise a family. And it worked. They’ve been married 40 years and have two children – Lacey 36 and Trevor 26 – and four grandchildren.

Before joining Higginbotham in 1990, Mary Russell was a claims representative for five years at American General Insurance, where she adjusted property and casualty claims.

She was recruited by Higginbotham Chairman and CEO Rusty Reid to become Higginbotham’s claims manager. Russell is now the highest-ranking woman executive at the firm.

Higginbotham had a staff of fewer than 20 and one office when she came to the firm, and she has seen it grow to more than 1,050 employees across 39 offices. Though Higginbotham has been in operation since 1948, the firm’s substantial growth didn’t start until Reid assumed leadership.

As one of the few who has been with Higginbotham since its infancy, she has had a hand in nearly every transaction that has made Higginbotham the nationally recognized firm it is today.

“She has and is instrumental in the agency’s continued growth in Texas which has been accomplished through both organic growth and acquisition. Besides being an integral part of the firm’s growth, she is also a terrific agent who takes care of her clients and is proactive in providing them the type of service they expect,” said nominator Brian Happel.

Russell is a member of the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC) and Certified Insurance Service Representatives (CISR). She serves on the board for the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, the BBVA Compass Advisory Board and the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA) Board.

Russell has served in advisory capacities for carriers by sitting on their councils for more than 20 years. In order to give her undivided attention to the carriers, she rotates her involvement with them, serving each carrier every few years. Her participation has included Chartis (formerly AIG), Chubb, Fireman’s Fund, PURE, Republic, Safeco State Auto and Travelers.

Her philanthropic involvement includes Arlington Baptist College, Blue Raider Athletic Association, Boys & Girls Club, Catholic Charities, Christ Church, Girls Inc., Habitat for Humanity, North Crowley Baseball, SCORE and Stage West Theatre.

– Paul K. Harral

What advice would you give young women rising to a position of prominence?

Always continue to learn and be open to new opportunities. You will be a much better person.

You could choose to spend your time many ways; why do you choose to spend it the way you do?

I feel so blessed and when I’m able to spend time and share it with others or help others, I feel such joy seeing their happiness from succeeding.

Who is the most significant role model and/or mentor in your life?

My father and Rusty Reid. Both of these great men lead by example. They work hard and are very generous and helping others with their time, advice, knowledge and endless support.

What book, movie, TV series or play influenced you growing up?  Why?

Several.  Mary Tyler Moorestands out as being strong, independent, hardworking, kind and having a sense of humor when things didn’t go perfectly as planned.

What would you like for us to know that we might not know to ask?

I was elected to the Higginbotham Agency Board years ago, and I grew even more when I was surrounded by our great partners and clients that are friends.

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