Courtesy of forcoloredgurls.com
As a national education advocate, Trish Brown has raised more than a billion dollars for education, even though she was told by her high school counselor, in 1980, that she was not college material.
Twelve years later, Trish was signing that counselor’s paycheck when she was elected the youngest member ever to serve on the Wayne-Westland Community School’s Board of Education.
“I missed an average of 16 days of school each semester,” Brown said. “I could see why he would come to that conclusion.”
Brown was raised an only child in a middle-class family, but her mother struggled with alcoholism, and she would often stay home to care for her mother.
When she was 28, Brown, an Eastern Michigan University graduate, with a B.S. in Public Relations and Construction Management-Industrial Technology, left her job as an award-winning journalist and news editor to seek election to the board of education of the school district from which she graduated. The post paid $1800 a year and offered no health insurance. And no, that isn’t a typo, nor are there are a couple of zeros missing.
“As an education reporter, I knew I could no longer watch from the sidelines as programs were being slashed and so were the hopes and dreams of too many young people,” Brown said. “Leaving my job was what I had to do.”
At the time, the cash-strapped district had a $23 million budget deficit. When Brown left the district in 1997, the district had a $14 million surplus.
In 1997, as president of the board, Brown personally lobbied Governor John Engler to secure an additional $100 million for the district. Additionally, in the same year, she led the board with a 7-0 vote to pass one of the first policies prohibiting bullying based on sexual orientation.
“Trish wasn’t your conventional board member,” said Dr. Greg Baracy, Superintendent Wayne-Westland County Community Schools. “She has always been an active supporter of our public schools and an advocate for students and educational funding at the local and state-wide levels.”
Brown has also worked in public relations, and in 1993 began serving as public relations consultant with Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD). Between the fall of ’93 and fall of ’95, she worked with three WCCCD chancellors.
“The college was in really bad shape,” Brown said. “They had closed one of their suburban campuses, and between racial issues that existed between the city and suburbs, it looked as though it would only be a matter of time before the other four campuses would close.”
One chancellor Brown worked with was Dr. Curtis L. Ivery; in late 1995, he accepted the position to lead the college, and he still oversees today. Ivery was the 19th chancellor to serve the college, arriving during its 28th year. His leadership has made WCCCD one of the largest and best colleges in the country.
“Trish is a change-agent. She is a visionary,” Ivery said. “There are few education advocates who are well-versed in K-12 and post-secondary education. I know this to be true as a board member of the American Association of Community Colleges.”
Some of the efforts Brown achieved for the college while working closely with Chancellor Ivery include serving on the Westland Local Development Finance Authority that was able to secure $15 million for a railroad overpass; working to create a millage campaign that netted the college approximately $500 million; the college had 7,000 students, and working with Ivery and employees of WCCCD, in 2007, the college grew to 75,000 students. In the fall of 2009, enrollment topped at 84,000.
Additionally, Brown worked with Merrill Osmond on Families of Freedom Scholarship and organization, which raised $100 million in scholarship funds for the children of those maimed in the 9-11 attacks.
Brown continues to grow her PR firm, Communications Concepts, which she started in 1993, but she spends most of her professional time as a PR consultant and speaker for communications, education and educating young entrepreneurs. She has worked with several colleges, universities, school districts, state officials, members of Congress as well as other businesses that are working with the new energy sector.
To contact Brown for a speaking engagement or professional consultation, call 734.397.8775. To learn more about her website, TPEPost.com, call the number above, or email TBCOMM (at) aol (dot) com.