Spring 2016 Fellow
Alvin Brown was sworn in on July 1, 2011, as Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, the largest city by land area and 12th largest city by population in the continental United States. The first Democratic mayor in 20 years, and the first-ever African-American elected Mayor of Jacksonville, Mayor Brown governed with a vision of bringing Jacksonville together as one community, and taking the city to the next level as a place of opportunity for all. Under his leadership, Jacksonville became one of America’s leading cities for innovation and improving quality of life.
Mayor Brown’s passion for public service is inspired by his life experience. Raised by a single mother and grandmother who instilled values of humility, faith, and hard work, Mayor Brown worked as a meat-cutter at Winn-Dixie to become the first member of his family to graduate from college. While in college, he was exposed to the possibilities of life, and pursued a career path that enables helping individuals and communities to achieve their full
With bold and collaborative approaches to the challenges of economic development, streamlining city government, retirement reform, and education, Mayor Brown achieved numerous successes in Jacksonville, such as:
● Directly assisted 29 companies (including General Electric Oil & Gas, Deutsche Bank, Vistakon, and Embraer) to expand or relocate in Jacksonville, spurring at least $600 million in private sector investment and aiding the creation of 36,000 jobs during his tenure.
● Negotiated a long-term pension agreement with the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund that saves Jacksonville taxpayers $1.5 billion over the next 35 years without the need for tax increases.
● Created a Downtown Investment Authority to attract corporate headquarters, residential housing, and retail businesses to the city’s downtown core.
● Refinanced more than $1.3 billion in bonds at lower interest rates to reduce city debt and save taxpayers $133 million over the life of the bonds, pushing the city to be ranked first in the U.S. for investment performance in 2013 by Morningstar.
● Secured an IBM Smart Cities Challenge Grant to develop a data-driven action plan to spur downtown revitalization.
● Created Office of Public-Private Partnerships, led by an executive for $1, to leverage innovation and resources from the private sector.
● Appointed the first-ever Education Commissioner for $1 through a public-private partnership with Jacksonville University.
● Formed partnership with America’s Promise to increase graduation rates in Jacksonville high schools.
● Established the Mayor’s Mentors program, a partnership with community organizations that has recruited, trained and placed more than 600 adults as in-school mentors.
● Founded the Mayors Youth Advisory Council to empower high school students with a voice in City Hall on youth issues.
● Implemented Learn 2 Earn, immersing youth in local college campuses for a summer and connecting them with job opportunities.
● Built a Veterans Resource Reintegration Center in City Hall, leveraging a $1 million donation from the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation to aid veterans in facilitating transition into civilian life.
● Launched Jobs for Veterans, connecting talented veterans for local, regional, and national job opportunities.
● Established a Week of Valor, focusing the city’s attention on challenges facing veterans such as suicide prevention.
● Led the effort in Florida and Washington, DC to secure authorization for a landmark Harbor Deepening effort ensuring the city’s ports compete in the global economy by accommodating 21st century shipping vessels.
● Earned the selection of Jacksonville under the Global Cities Initiative (in partnership with the Brookings Institute and JP Morgan) to develop export strategies for small and medium-sized businesses in Northeast Florida.
● Served as an Executive Board Member and Chairman of the Task Force on Ports and Exports for the US Conference of Mayors.
● Created a cabinet-level city department dedicated to veteran’s services and military affairs, headed by a recently retired rear admiral who reported directly to the mayor.
Mayor Brown’s tenure leveraged a 20-year expertise in building new opportunities and meeting urgent needs throughout the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. Not long after starting his career, Mayor Brown served as a senior member of the White House leadership team under President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. As Vice President Al Gore’s Senior Advisor for Urban Policy, and Vice Chair of the White House Community Empowerment Board, Mayor Brown advised the President and Vice President on a wide range of domestic issues, including community revitalization, job creation, new business development and affordable housing.
As Executive Director of the White House Community Empowerment Board, Mayor Brown led the Administration’s $4 billion community empowerment initiatives, including the Empowerment Zone / Enterprise Community programs. The highly successful programs revitalized impoverished urban and rural communities, and generated unprecedented levels of public-private partnerships resulting in over $10 billion in private investments to the designated communities. Mayor Brown also served as Senior Advisor to the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, and Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Andrew Cuomo. While at HUD, Mayor Brown oversaw the Department’s $100 million disaster recovery initiatives, and led an overhaul of the Department’s disaster response effort.
Mayor Brown was appointed President and CEO of The Willie Gary Classic, a foundation established to provide forums and scholarships to students, ensuring that young people were given opportunities to reach their full life potential. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Mayor Brown served as executive director of the Bush/Clinton Katrina Interfaith Fund, a philanthropic $20 million fund to rebuild houses of worship throughout the Gulf Coast. Immediately prior to his election as Mayor of Jacksonville, he served as an Executive in Residence at Jacksonville University’s Davis School of Business, connecting students and faculty with best practices for building public-private partnerships.
Mayor Brown earned a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Jacksonville University, and completed postgraduate work at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Edward Waters College and Jacksonville University.
Mayor Brown resides in Jacksonville with his wife, Santhea, and two sons.
His Discussion Group was entitled “Successes and Struggles of a 21st Century Mayor”.