|Address||8816 S. Constance Ave |
Chicago, Illinois 60617, United States
|| September 04, 1954
Jan 04, 2016 10:22pm
|Info||An attorney, certified public accountant, and a sibling among eight children, Dorothy Brown remembers the day she narrowly lost her first bid for elective office as a candidate for Treasurer in Chicago. Despite her defeat, she gained respectability from the media and public policy groups for waging an "issue-oriented" campaign. Ms. Brown took adversity and turned it into a positive, a lesson that she learned through her humble upbringing by parents who stressed the value of education, sacrifice, and self-discipline. Those early lessons fueled her efforts in high school, college, and throughout her professional career. The highlight of her career came on Tuesday, November 7, 2000, when Ms. Brown became the first African-American to be elected Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, winning overwhelmingly by a 4-1 margin. Just six months earlier, she won the Democratic Primary against the slated party candidate and two other previously elected officials. The Circuit Court of Cook County is one of the largest unified court systems in the world and the Clerk's Office has a workforce of approximately 2,300 employees, as well as an annual operating budget of over $120 million. |
Ms. Brown can still picture her father, a staunch unionist and union steward, working in the laundry room of the Louisiana Army Ammunitions Plant near her hometown of Minden, Louisiana. Her mother worked as a cook and a domestic. To help their parents make ends meet, she, along with her six sisters and brother, helped their father chop and pick cotton at the family farm. Today, Ms. Brown is part of a family history of seven bachelor degrees, six master's degrees, two law degrees, one certified public accountant, and a doctorate.
Ms. Brown's hard work continued throughout her childhood and into high school where she excelled at Webster High School, both as a star student and as a star athlete. She was captain of and forward for the girl's varsity basketball team and by the end of her senior year she graduated in the top 10 percent of her class. While in high school, Ms. Brown helped defray family expenses by working as a housekeeper during the evenings, and during the summer months after her junior year she worked in a government-funded nutritional program for welfare mothers.
When Dorothy Brown entered college in 1971 at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, she began her quest for educational and professional excellence. During the summer vacation before her junior year, she worked on a paint assembly line in a factory, Pathfinder, Inc., in Niles, IL, to help with family expenses and pay her college tuition. In 1975, Ms. Brown graduated Magna Cum Laude and then two years later became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In 1981, she received her Master's in Business Administration (MBA) with honors from DePaul University in Chicago. Then, in 1996, some 15 years later, she received her law degree with honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law while working full-time. A multiple-degreed graduate, Ms. Brown achieved most of her educational accomplishments while raising her daughter, Detris, a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., now attending law school at Drake University in Iowa.
Dorothy Brown's depth of passions and broad understanding of issues come from a lifetime committed to professionalism and public service. Upon receiving her CPA, Ms. Brown worked for both Commonwealth Edison and Arthur Anderson & Co. before joining the First National Bank of Chicago audit team. She then moved on to Senior Manager of the then new accounting firm of Odell Hicks and Company. At that firm, she handled audits for prominent clients, including the city of Chicago.
Her auditing work led to a natural progression to General Auditor for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), a position she held until being elected Clerk. As General Auditor, Ms. Brown ensured implementation of a series of internal recommendations reducing the potential of major financial losses to the CTA and increased the efficiency of both manual and computerized systems. She developed a 10-year audit plan to determine the potential weaknesses in internal controls and then made recommendations for improvements. Ms. Brown also served on the CTA's vendor selection committee for its automated fare collection system. This led to the creation of an initiative that not only further reduced the potential for financial losses to the Transit Authority but allowed automated fare paying easier for CTA transit riders.
Under her leadership, the CTA designed a mechanism to monitor fare collections at train stations, thus making it easier to detect misappropriation of funds before the implementation of the current automatic fare collection system. Additionally, Ms. Brown helped to professionalize the General Auditor's Office during her administration by ensuring that new employees who were hired had Bachelor's Degrees either in Finance or Accounting.
Throughout her professional career, Ms. Brown has maintained a high-profile status among women and various other groups in the finance, legal, political, and religious sectors. She, for instance, is the immediate past president of the National Woman's Political Caucus of Greater Chicago; immediate past president of the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Southeast Case Management Auxiliary Board; treasurer of both Working in the Schools (WITS) and the Illinois Association of Attorneys/Certified Public Accountants; founder/executive director of the Star Scholarship Fund; a member of the South Central Community Services Board; member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the King of Glory Tabernacle Church of God in Christ; member of the Chicago Bar Association, member of the Cook County Bar Association, member of the Black Women Lawyers' Association, and the Illinois Association of Certified Public Accountants.
Clerk Brown has a strong commitment to the community and has been recognized by various organizations for her outstanding professional and public service. She was awarded the 2002 Hillary Rodham Clinton Leadership Award from the Illinois Democratic Women, the 2003 Marks of Excellence Award from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, the 2003 Women of Achievement Award from the Anti-Defamation League, and the 2004 NAACP Proviso/Leyden Medal of Freedom.
"All my life, wherever I am and whatever I do, I try to conduct myself in a manner that would be pleasing to my father and mother because I represent the hopes and dreams that they instilled in our family."