Indiana State University honored state Rep. Charlie Brown for his decades of commitment to Indiana’s youth and its residents’ wellbeing Tuesday in Lake County.
President Deborah Curtis presented Brown (D-Gary) the President’s Award for Distinguished Public Service and Outstanding Achievement at a reception in Merrillville, Ind.
As a long-time champion and advocate on behalf of youth- and healthcare-related issues, Brown has successfully worked to enact a wide range of legislative initiatives in the Indiana General Assembly. Brown announced last fall he was stepping down after 35 years to focus on matters closer to home with a bid for the 3rd District Lake County Council seat.
“Rep. Brown’s passion for education and for improving social, educational and economic opportunities for Indiana’s young people directly aligns with Indiana State’s mission,” Curtis said. “On behalf of Indiana State University, it is an honor to recognize his 35 years of service in the Indiana General Assembly and wish him well as he returns to Lake County to focus on needs at the local level. He is a true champion for Gary and the northwest Indiana region.”
First elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1982, Brown has served on a number of influential legislative committees. Perhaps his most prominent leadership role has been as chairman of the Indiana House Standing Committee on Public Health.
Among the most recent of Brown’s legislative achievements was in 2007 when he authored a new statewide effort to promote improved health care for residents. Known as the Healthy Indiana Plan, Brown’s House Enrolled Act 1678 (Public Law 218-2007) is regarded by many as one of the most innovative health care initiatives in the entire nation. The program provides expanded health insurance availability, improved prenatal care for expectant mothers and a bipartisan effort to encourage establishment of wellness programs among Indiana employers of all sizes.
As a community leader, Brown has served as a board member for groups such as the National Civil Rights Museum, the Council for State Health Policy Leadership, the Coalition on Health Care in Gary, Indiana University School of Medical Education and Brother’s Keeper of Gary. He has also served as a trustee for Saint Timothy Community Church. Brown is a charter member of the National Council on Black Child Development and was the founder of Mayor Hatcher’s Youth Foundation.
Brown grew up in Philadelphia and moved to Gary upon completion of his undergraduate studies in education at what is now Cheyney University in Cheyney, Pennsylvania.
Brown worked as an educator in the Gary Community School Corporation, 1961-1968. From 1968 to 1988, Charlie served as youth coordinator, mayor’s assistant on youth activities, director of the Youth Services Bureau, affirmative action officer and risk manager for the city of Gary. Following his work in municipal government, Brown assumed the duties of CEO of the Gary Community Mental Health Center, 1988-1993.
Brown currently works as a consultant providing health and management services to entities seeking to foster positive interaction between governmental entities and the community. He has worked to bring together the best efforts of private and public organizations to improve social, educational and economic opportunities for Indiana’s young people.
Brown and his wife, Angela, have one daughter and two grandchildren.