Seattle Foundation Blog

Michael Brown Honored With National Award

Grantmakers in Health award recognizes achievement in health philanthropy


July 03, 2018

Michael Brown, Seattle Foundation’s civic architect for our new Civic Commons project, recently received the 2018 Terrance Keenan Leadership Award in Health Philanthropy from Grantmakers in Health.

The award recognizes outstanding health grantmakers whose work is distinguished by leadership, innovation and outstanding achievement. It was presented at the GIH annual conference on June 20 in Chicago, where Brown gave an acceptance speech sharing his journey from childhood in New Orleans to becoming a grantmaker who has worked for two decades to improve the health and vibrancy of our community.

Brown has been with the Foundation since 2001, serving as the longtime vice president of Community Programs. He has led efforts to elevate community voice and foster public-private partnerships, addressing complex challenges including community building, economic opportunity and educational outcomes. He led the development of the Seattle Foundation's Center for Community Partnerships, which supports efforts to achieve greater racial and economic equity, particularly through community-driven systems and policy change.

In recognizing Michael’s leadership, Grantmakers in Health said that he has left an imprint on the entire nonprofit community in the Seattle region.

In his acceptance speech, Michael said that to create a truly healthy and vibrant community for all, we need to focus on the social determinants of health and equity like housing, education, economic stability and open space. He shared how he led the Foundation’s effort to put community at the core of its work.

“If we deploy a new model that truly has community in the center, we partner with community and enhance their capacity, then we will finally achieve sustainable and equitable outcomes,” he said. “This requires work and dedication to new partnerships and a fundamental shift in power structures. We need to give voice to those who lack power.”

Here is an excerpt from his remarks:

“I want things to be fair and equitable, so that when the race starts, everyone is at the same starting point. The institutional and structural racism that exist in our society is so pervasive, that we’re not there yet ….hence the time for social justice and designing new systems to achieve equity is now. 

This Martin Luther King Jr. quote has always had special meaning for me: 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.'

We, in this field, are reminded of that every day. It’s why I’m a warrior for equity.”

 

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