Russ is a life-long resident of Lebanon County. He graduated from Northern Lebanon High School and Lebanon County Vo-Tech in 1981. He entered the workforce as a production laborer at O'Sullivan Corporation in Lebanon, and seven years later pursued his dream of becoming a working musician.
In 1992, his passion for music led him to open a small recording studio in Lebanon. The business subsequently gained regional acclaim and was transformed into the nationally known CD and manufacturing and duplicating service known as Raintree Multimedia.
Prior to being elected to office, Russ was a well-known and highly effective government reform advocate, leading the charge against the infamous midnight pay raise of 2005. His organization recruited over 110 candidates for the General Assembly, the largest such effort in state history by a non-partisan organization.
His group also led the charge in the first-ever non-retention of a PA Supreme Court Justice - Democrat Russell Nigro - which cleared a path for Republicans to take the majority on the Court in 2007.
He was named one of three Citizens of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer for his work in 2006. Later that same year, Russ received the Public Service Achievement Award from Common Cause of Pennsylvania and was named Communicator of the Year by the Harrisburg chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.
First elected to the General Assembly in 2015, Russ introduced a bill to bring industiral hemp back to Pennsylvania as a cash crop, which promises become a billion-dollar industry to benefit the state's farmers, manufacturers, and consumers. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law.
In 2017, Russ successfully secured legislation to provide local share revenue from slot machines at Hollywood Casino to benefit Lebanon County. Those funds became available in 2022 and hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants are now benefitting Lebanon County's municipalities and first responders.
In 2020, Russ led the legislative effort against Tom Wolf's Covid-related lockdowns and as a result, Pennsylvania became the only state in the nation to reduce a governor's emergency powers.
Russ has been intimately involved in the fight for election integrity in Pennsylvania, and has earned the honor of serving as the House Republican Caucus' voice on the Joint State Government Commission's Election Law Advisory Board.
In the 2023-24 Legislative Session, Russ serves as the Republican Chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
Russ and his wife Beth live in Annville in a home built by his great-grandparents.