Message From Our President & CEO
The Ron Brown Scholar Program was created in 1996 and named to honor the memory of Secretary of Commerce, Ronald H. Brown, the statesman and bridge-builder who was killed in a plane crash in Croatia that same year. Following his tragic death, Anthony (Tony) Pilaro sought to perpetuate Secretary Brown’s legacy of achievement and global leadership by establishing a scholarship program in his name. Tony had been a close friend to Secretary Brown’s former boss, attorney Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., and a good friend of mine as well.
From its very inception, Tony wanted this to be no ordinary scholarship program. As the Program’s first and only President and CEO, I have been fortunate to be able to work alongside the brilliant Tony Pilaro in crafting his vision and selecting over five-hundred low-income Ron Brown Scholars. The goal of the Ron Brown Scholar Program has been and remains simple—to keep the group connected and to empower them to effect positive change. Many of the Scholars have overcome obstacles that would cause most people to give up and give in and quit, but they forge ahead and graduate at a 99% rate.
The value of the scholarship is far more than the $40,000 in funds for college, we advance the collective impacts of these extraordinary service-minded leaders through a network that functions very much like a family—with ongoing personal bonds and collective gatherings. We measure our success by the number of friends, corporate and scholarship sponsors, and volunteers who join in our vision, as well as by the frequency of staff and alumni mentoring interactions and their commitment to others.
I invite you to become involved in some way, as our success depends upon volunteers and mentors willing to help today’s youth become the leaders of tomorrow.
Thank you for visiting. We welcome your feedback.
Michael A. Mallory
Anthony M. Pilaro
Founder, Ron Brown Scholar Program
Anthony Pilaro’s vision extends far beyond the creation of scholarships. He is determined to increase the number of African American leaders in his endeavor to create a new kind of “old boys network”, that is more inclusive and reflective of today’s world. Each generation of these Ron Brown Scholar leaders, after years of community building during their college and postgraduate pursuits, through formative influences such as mentoring and conference experiences, will consult and work with one another, ensuring continuity. The goal is to keep Ron Brown’s ethic by “doing well by doing good.”
For over two decades, Tony Pilaro’s philanthropy and vision have created a highly successful network concept for emerging young leaders. Tony’s engagement and support in creating a viable model for young people to succeed, and remain committed to giving back, is what makes his vision extraordinary. With such incredible results of positive change, increasing numbers of sponsors are investing in the future of the Program.
Ronald H. Brown
Ron Brown was the first African-American appointed to the Cabinet post of Secretary of Commerce and the first to serve as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. At the time of his death in 1996, he was a figure of global prominence, respected for his intelligence, political savvy and leadership.
Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in New York City, Mr. Brown attended Middlebury College in Vermont. He served for four years in the U.S. Army, posted to Germany and Korea. He earned a law degree from St. John’s University, attending classes at night while working first as a welfare caseworker for the City of New York, then for the National Urban League. He spent twelve years with the Urban League as Deputy Executive Director, General Counsel, and Vice President of the Washington bureau. During this time, he became involved in politics and worked on Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1980. An appointment followed as chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee under the chairmanship of the Senator. Learn more about the former Secretary of Commerce and commitment to service here.
In 1981 Mr. Brown joined Patton, Boggs & Blow, becoming the first African-American partner at this prestigious firm in the nation’s capital. He proved himself a skillful negotiator and was highly sought after as a lobbyist. He continued to be active in politics, serving as the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s convention manager in his 1988 bid for the presidency.
Mr. Brown used his skills as a negotiator and pragmatic bridge builder in his successful tenure as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1989 to 1992, reuniting the Party after its defeat in the 1988 presidential election and leading it to victory in 1992. Having earned a cabinet-level appointment in President Clinton’s administration, he was named Secretary of Commerce.
Bringing his trademark activist style to the Department of Commerce, Mr. Brown was a tireless advocate for American business both at home and overseas. The Secretary circled the globe, spreading good will with his characteristic enthusiasm and cultivating opportunities and markets for American products. It was on one such trade mission that he died in a plane crash in war-torn Eastern Europe.