5 Questions with Stu: Lynne Howard and Don Brown, Founders of the Howard-Brown Family Fund at the DCF
Lynne, a former government employee for the city (including a stint as chief of staff for the council), county (including time as Chief HR officer), and state (advisor on family issues for Gov. Carper); treasurer for the campaigns of Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester; consultant; longtime volunteer (including many years with the Christina Cultural Arts Center); and philanthropist/donor. Don, former assistant county attorney for New Castle County; former Chief Deputy AG for the state of Delaware; former Corporate Counsel for Dupont (16 years); pro bono counsel for low-income Delawareans; volunteer with DCF’s grants and scholarships committees; and philanthropist/donor.
I admire these people greatly, not just for their accomplishments, but for their decency and friendship. And for their commitment to giving back. Enjoy.
1. What first motivated you to get involved in philanthropy?
We were both raised in families that valued being engaged in community, educational, faith-based work, political issues and action. Our parents modeled these values, and we were taught to give of our time, talents and resources, however small, for the betterment of others to make a difference in our communities.
Lynne attended a college that taught about and valued giving to support those in need or to make a change in a community condition. She attended college in Atlanta, in the home base of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work was an environment of community action and social justice, and that has remained with her to this day. Service to others was also a theme in Don’s college and early career as well.
2. What community endeavors are you proudest to support or engage in?
Areas of interest: education, childcare, arts, affordable housing, access to justice, and community health.
1. Christina Cultural Arts Center
2. Wilmington HOPE Commission
3. Mitchell Center for African American Heritage
4. Delaware Volunteer Legal Services
5. Children & Families First
6. Center for Educational Equity and Public Policy
3. Where do you see the greatest potential for philanthropy to drive change in Delaware?
Filling the gaps and complementing the work and financing where government and other funding support is just not adequate to make a sufficient difference. Philanthropy, in addition to providing needed resources to meet community needs, can also be a catalyst to inspire others to understand the gaps and needs and to step up with whatever they can bring to the table for the betterment of their community,
Philanthropy can also support bringing best practice experts to our community to enhance local work, research and advocacy already happening, thus moving action and improvements forward at a faster pace.
4. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through your work in philanthropy?
Effective and meaningful contributions need not always be financial. Giving can include the giving of time and talent in areas such as planning, strategic guidance, staff encouragement, mentoring, outreach, advocacy and supplementing an organization’s limited staff and resources
All should recognize that philanthropy happens in both small and large ways. A small organization can have just as major a need for a new printer as another might have for a new roof. It’s a matter of perspective. People often think that philanthropy means having lots of money to give. That truly does not have to be the case. All have something to give, time, talent or treasures. We all need to find a way to get that message out more effectively.
5. How does your philanthropy contribute to expanding opportunity for people in Delaware?
We select causes and organizations focused on making a demonstrated difference each day in their service mission. A good project, well-conceived and carried out, attacks urgent needs and delivers clear results while constantly assessing and improving programs. A top-notch organization sets the area of focus and constantly assesses the effectiveness of results and stays in close touch with its customers and clients.
We particularly look at organizations that serve the truly under-served sectors of our community and the diversity of our community, not just on paper but in reality.
ABOUT 5Q with Stu: This series is a chance to highlight philanthropists who are helping to keep Delaware a great place, and to make it better.