MOST UNLIKELY TO SUCCEED
The “unlikely” public education advocate
In eleventh grade, Trish Brown was told by her high school counselor that she wasn’t college material. Twelve years later, she was signing that counselor’s paycheck, when she was elected the youngest member to ever serve on the Wayne-Westland Community Schools 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 Brown would often stay home to care for her mother.
At 28, Brown, who is an Eastern Michigan University graduate, with a BS 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 a couple 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 Gov. John Engler to secure an additional $100 million for the district.
“Trish wasn’t your conventional board member, “ said Dr. Greg Baracy, Superintendent Wayne-Westland Community Schools. “She has always been an active supporter or our public schools, and an advocate for students and educational funding at the local and state-wide levels.”
Also in 1997, she led the board with a 7-0 vote to pass one of the first policies prohibiting bullying based on sexual orientation.
In 1993, she began working with Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) as a public relations consultant. 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.”
In late 1995, Dr. Curtis L Ivery accepted the position to lead the college, which he still oversees today. Ivery was the 19th chancellor to serve the college, when he arrived 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:
1994: Brown was appointed to the Wayne County Elections Commission by members of the Wayne County Commission. She served with Wayne County Clerk Teola Hunter, Detroit Clerk Jackie Curry, and the county treasurer.
1995: She also served on the Westland Local Development Finance Authority that was able to secure $15 million for a railroad overpass.
1996: Wayne-Westland School Board President Trish Brown welcomes President Bill Clinton to John Glenn High School, from which Brown graduated. Clinton was greeted by 14,000 local residents that day.
1999: Stopped Ford Motor Co, the UAW and the State of Michigan from building a tech center for Henry Ford Community College within the tax boundaries of WCCCD. Instead the facility was built in cooperation with WCCCD.
2001: Brown worked to create a millage campaign that netted the college approximately $500 million
Osmond and Brown worked together on a project for Families of Freedom Scholarship organization which raised $100 million in scholarship funds for the children of those killed and maimed in the 9-11 attacks.
Brown started her PR firm, Communication Concepts, in 1993 and she continues growing that company today, but 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 Trish Brown for a speaking engagement or for a professional consultation, please call 734-397-8775. To discuss and learn more about TPE, Brown can also be reached at the above number or email at TBCOMM@aol.com.