Joan worked for the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia for 25 years as Vice President of Travel. Craig Snyder, President and CEO, recently sent this note to her colleagues and friends in the travel industry:
It is with a heavy heart that I share this tragic news. Joan Russell will not return to her position at the World Affairs Council. Recently she underwent a series of tests at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and received the devastating diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD.
The NIH describes this condition as “ . . . a rare, degenerative, invariably fatal brain disorder. It affects about one person in every one million people per year worldwide; in the United States there are about 300 cases per year.” 
Joan is resting comfortably for now at home with her daughter, Aimee Lee, and husband, Michael. Although she has difficulty walking and tires easily, she has many good hours during the day and is squeezing every drop out of every hour with her family. She has a wheelchair they take on a plane and two weeks ago visited her family in the UK. Last week they celebrated Aimee Lee’s graduation from Villanova.
As you know, Joan’s passion is travel – for now she is making the most of their time and next week will take a trip with her family to the Caribbean where she celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary with Michael just last December.
 NIH - (https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Creutzfeldt-Jakob-Disease-Fact-Sheet
Also see the Center for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/prions/cjd/
There are two organizations that have helped tremendously during this crucible of struggle and grief - The World Affairs Council (WAC), and the CJD Foundation.
The Council is establishing the Joan Russell Travel Scholarship: "In honor of Joan Russell’s nearly 25 years of service to the Council and of her passion for international travel."
The scholarship "will be annually awarded to a deserving student or students at our partner school, Bodine High School for International Affairs, to allow them to participate in the school’s annual spring trip abroad. We feel that continuing to encourage an enthusiasm for travel in others, especially our students, is the best possible way to carry on Joan’s legacy at the Council. "
Please see - https://www.wacphila.org/about_us/joan_russell_travel_scholarship/
This disease is pernicious, aggressive, and so far, has eluded all efforts to abate its ultimate fatal consequences, no less a cure. The CJD Foundation has provided empathetic support and counseling during this difficult time. Joanie volunteered to help their efforts through their "Teleneurology Assessment Program in Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease" (TAPCJD) - this won't benefit her directly, but will add to the body of data that someday will hopefully lead to effective therapeutic treatments.
Please see - https://cjdfoundation.org/