The Thomas R. Brown Foundations: Partner in the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership

February 22, 2011

By The Arizona Center for Civic Leadership

Glance for a moment at the logo of the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership at the top of this page–Two colors weave in and out to form a vibrant sun-like image.

Those interlocking colors are intended to evoke one of the Center’s primary characteristics: It prizes and depends on collaboration between leaders, organizations dedicated to training new leaders, and all Arizonans committed to the state’s future.

The Center also depends on collaboration between two philanthropic organizations, the Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation and the Tucson-based Thomas R. Brown Foundations. The Center is a new initiative for both foundations, but in an area that closely aligns with the organizations’ respective missions.

About the Thomas R. Brown Foundations

The Brown Foundations are the legacy of Thomas Rush Brown, Jr. (1926-2002), who in 1956 co-founded Burr-Brown Research Corp., the most successful homegrown high-tech company in Arizona history. Burr-Brown became a gloval leader in the semiconductor industry and was sold to Texas Instruments in 2000. The Foundations are guided today by his daughters, Sarah Brown Smallhouse and Mary Brown Bernal, and civic associates Michael Hard, John Carter, Gerry Swanson, and Jack Jewett.

Building on Tom Brown’s decades of civic service and dedication to improving Arizona, primary focal areas of the Brown Foundations are education, research and economic analysis of current issues, and strategic community-building initiatives. Mr. Brown took individual responsibility to heart and practiced sustainable commitment. Now the foundations that bear his name are following suit.

The Foundations have pursued these interests in several ways–from its signature Economics in Public Policy Project, to economics-education programs for K-12 teachers and students, to support for public-health initiatives, to university scholarships. In 2010, the Foundations issued a $2 million grant to support the Arizona Assurance Program, a need-based scholarship program for in-state students to attend the University of Arizona.

The Brown Foundations and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership

With an established record of supporting initiatives that enhance Arizonans’ capacity to thrive, and a commitment to bringing nonpartisan, fact-based perspectives to public-policy debate, the Brown Foundations represented an ideal partner for the Flinn Foundation in developing the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership. The two foundations began their formal collaboration in 2010.

“The Brown Foundations are committed to the long-term health and prosperity of our state,” said Sarah Brown Smallhouse, the Foundations’ president. “As issues and politics become increasingly intertwined and complicated, it is critical to make a concerted effort to educate and enable our future state leaders on the multi-dimensional challenges they will surely need to face and overcome.

“The Arizona Center for Civic Leadership is organized precisely toward this end,” Smallhouse continued. “We believe this is a strategic move that will make long-term planning and efficient government possible. We are proud to be a founding partner.”

Reflecting the Brown Foundations’ essential role in creating the Center, its leadership-training component is known as the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy, and the participants the Academy are known as Flinn-Brown Fellows.