Trustee Lynette Brown-Sow
Lynette Brown-Sow’s life has taught her that all paths to success are rooted in one’s community.
Whether serving as President of L.M. Brown Management Group, her own consulting firm, or as Vice President of Communications and Government Relations at Community College of Philadelphia, Brown-Sow (pronounced So) has found that complex social issues are far simpler to solve if communities, businesses and governments pull together.
As a child, Lynette conducted her first community outreach effort by selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door. Over the years, she became an unrelenting volunteer in community-based movements that strengthened the economy and created new services in West and Southwest Philadelphia. By the age of 15, she had earned the adult-size task of managing the campaign office of her mentor, Senator Hardy Williams.
Education provided Brown-Sow with the skills she would later use to help public agencies, businesses and educational institutions craft community-centered models of operations. In 1968, she graduated from West Philadelphia High School, and went on to earn a diploma in programming from the Institute of Computer Sciences (1969), a BS in Administration from Antioch University, (1979) and a MSS in Policy, Planning and Development from Bryn Mawr College (1981). She has held appointments as adjunct faculty at Antioch University and taught in the Mental Health Social Services Department at Community College of Philadelphia. In addition, she has lectured at Temple University and Bryn Mawr College.
In 1985, Ms. Brown-Sow was selected for the Community Leadership Seminars, a prestigious program that brings together high-profile business and community leaders in an effort to create a more synergistic and cohesive strategy for addressing regional challenges. In 1996, upon successful completion of two training programs, she received a “Governing for Non-Profit Excellence” certificate from Harvard University Graduate School of Business, and a certificate for “Strategic Perspectives in Non-profit Management” from Harvard’s Graduate School of Administration.
As her career took root, Brown-Sow’s public service agenda broadened to include issues of parity for women, health-care challenges, crime prevention, workforce development and multicultural initiatives.
As a young adult, she worked as a change agent in behavioral healthcare, where she advocated the design of culturally relevant and culturally sensitive health-care systems. As chair of the board of directors of the Consortium, a behavioral health-care organization that pioneered efforts to balance the input of community leaders and medical experts, Brown-Sow championed patient-centered models that fit the health-care model to the patient, not the patient to the system. She also worked to expand access of health-care services into neighborhoods. She has chaired and served on the board of one of the largest mental health agencies in the country and has served three terms as Region III Community Director of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, which serves Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
In the workplace, Brown-Sow has blended business competencies and management skills into her efforts to design community-based initiatives. Three words best describe her professional persona: change agent, consensus builder, and community architect. Yet her greatest gift, her friends and colleagues say, is an ability to communicate with different people and leverage political, ethnic and economic diversity in a way that benefits the collective community.
In 1980, L.M. Brown Management Group was founded and certified as a minority/female- owned consultant firm. The firm provides professional services to corporations, non-profits, and governmental entities. As an entrepreneur, she helped to create Health Pass, one of the nation’s first health insurance organizations (HIO), in the mid-1980s. Health Pass was a new idea born from a decision by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to privatize health-care for people on public assistance. Privatization generated heated protests among the poor who feared the change would lock them out of hospital emergency rooms and deprive them of quality healthcare. Health Pass, the first state-backed health insurer, drew upon the grass-root input to invent a new concept - an HIO, which could provide families with greater flexibility and yet still help manage escalating costs.
Over the years, Brown-Sow’s clients have included HealthAmerica, Inc., SEPTA, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Urban League of Philadelphia - Leadership Institute, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Homemakers, Inc., and the Southwest Community Redevelopment Corporation. Her firm was involved in conducting the market research study on the innovative Hope 6 Housing Project Development in Capitol Hill, D.C., a pioneering development that blended families with low-, middle-, and high-incomes into one community. Meanwhile, her work with grass-roots community organizations continued, as Brown-Sow also conducted community training, and worked with more than 100 organizations to assess community’s needs, establish goals and priorities, establish organizations/community development corporations, and help coordinate community development plans.
In January of 1991, Mayor Edward G. Rendell appointed Brown-Sow Deputy Mayor of Administration. In that position, she was responsible for managing the Mayor’s appointees to all boards, commissions, and non-civil service positions. She served as liaison to numerous businesses, community and public service groups and managed special projects and events. She also was appointed, and continues to serve, as the Mayor’s representative for Board of City Trusts. She also is on the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and serves as board members of the Organized Anti-Crime Community Network (OACCN) and the Council of Trustees, at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
Since July 1995, Ms. Brown-Sow has served in her current cabinet-level position at Community College of Philadelphia where she leads the staff handling marketing, advertising, public relations, publications, special events, workforce development initiatives and government and community relations. Since her arrival, the state and city increased financial contributions to the College, the College’s students and mission are more visible in local media, and community partnerships have increased. In addition, the College’s marketing campaigns and publications have earned the staff national honors and acclaim.
Currently, Ms. Brown-Sow’s professional membership includes the Association of Business and Professional Women, the National Forum of Black Public Administrators, the Forum of Executive Women, the Association of Collegiate Conference & Event Directors International, and the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations.
She is married and resides in Woodside, a neighborhood in Philadelphia.