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Their Story: Karen Brown

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Their Story: Karen Brown

Karen Brown, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at The Masters School, sitting  for an interview in her office.

Karen Brown, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at The Masters School, sitting for an interview in her office.

Kishan Mangru

Karen Brown, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at The Masters School, sitting for an interview in her office.

Kishan Mangru

Kishan Mangru

Karen Brown, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at The Masters School, sitting for an interview in her office.

Kishan Mangru, Blogger

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One can easily find her on the bottom floor of the Fonseca Center. Her radiant smile and her welcoming brown eyes make you feel comfortable talking with her about any issue you may have. She is Karen Brown, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at The Masters School.

Brown starts off her day a little differently than other members of the community. Unlike students, and some faculty and staff, Brown’s day begins by going to her office, rather than morning meeting. “What many do not realize,” Brown says, is that she “works with students, parents, and faculty of all three divisions of Masters: the Upper School, Middle School, and Cityterm.” She also is on a leadership team that interviews potential candidates for administration or teachers. In addition to all of the other aspects she has to juggle, Brown receives “walk-in” appointments at her office from students and faculty who just need advice. With such a fluid schedule and such a full plate, Brown says her job never gets boring.

What many may wonder, though, is how Brown gained this fervor for equity. When she was younger, her family moved to Indiana. At the time, she was the only girl of color in her school. Several times throughout her schooling, starting in Kindergarten, she was teased by many students. She had no one to turn to other than her parents. As she grew up, she wanted to advocate for others like her who couldn’t help themselves. This was the beginning of Brown’s civil rights activism. Later in life, she moved on to Howard University where she majored in Economics and minored in Psychology and African Studies. Her senior year, she became Senior Vice President of her class and worked with a Congresswoman who helped make Martin Luther King Day an American Federal Holiday. They were part of a non-profit organization that aided those less fortunate who couldn’t advocate for themselves. Even if it was volunteer work, Brown was eager to put in her share.

When she came to Masters, surprisingly, Brown worked in the Admissions Department. Soon she realized that Masters could do more to honor Martin Luther King Day. She asked Doc Wilson, former Head of School, if she would be able to allow her to put on a commemoration. Permission was granted, and so began the MLK performances at Masters. Thereafter, she conferenced with Mrs. Danforth to create an Equity and Inclusion Department at Masters. From this jumpstart, Brown added an annual MLK Day celebration, a department to observe differences among one another, and a program called diversity ambassadors to promote equity at Masters. For Brown, one of the most significant parts of her year is planning MLK Day. She describes it as a “huge undertaking” that is completely worth it. Being someone who has much experience, she enjoys spreading her knowledge.

Taking a detour from her work life, Brown has three children and adores traveling. She lived in London for five years and visited various European countries, but her favorite place to travel to is Jamaica. In both trying to learn more about different cultures and respect them, she requires her family learn a few phrases in the native language of the destination of their trip. These phrases include “Hello, do you speak English?,” “Goodbye,” and “Where is the bathroom?” She also likes trying the unique foods of different countries. Hearing this, I quickly saw how this simple aspect of her trip aligned with Brown’s morals. She found it necessary to appreciate the customs of different regions, just like appreciating the differences among people when meeting someone new.

Brown’s goal for the future is the familiarize the entire community with diversity. She describes it as being “comfortable with the uncomfortable.”

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