Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning
Michael Russell was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1953 and brought up in his father's home town of Troon where he attended Marr College. A graduate of Edinburgh University, from 1974 to 1992 he worked in a variety of media sectors and in a variety of places including Edinburgh, the Western Isles, Inverness and Glasgow.
He joined the Scottish National Party in 1974 and held a number of senior party posts before becoming the party's first full time Chief Executive in 1994. Mr Russell was the campaign manager for Alex Salmond's leadership campaign in 1990 and he contested the SNP leadership in 2004.
He was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as a Regional Member for the South of Scotland, was a founding member of the Parliamentary Bureau and then served as Shadow Minister for Children, Education and Culture. He won 'Debater of the Year' award in 2000 and was short listed for 'Scottish Politician of the Year' title in 2002.
Mr Russell lost his seat in 2003 and returned to a media career but was re-elected for the same region in 2007 when he was appointed Minister for Environment.
He was Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, with responsibility for the National Conversation and the White Paper Your Scotland, Your Voice, from February until December 2009 when he was appointed Education Secretary.
He is the author of seven books including one novel, has one son and lives with his wife in rural Argyll.
Michael Russell MSP, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP
On Twitter: @Feorlean