Anita Brown ’98, MBA ’08
SUNY Poly Foundation Board of Directors Member
You previously served as Chair of the SUNY Poly Foundation Board of Directors and you were recently re-elected as a Director of the board. What does it mean to you to serve SUNY Poly in this manner?
I have enjoyed so many blessings throughout my life that I decided long ago to do what I could to give back to my community. I began serving on volunteer boards in my early 20s and over the years I have sought out mission-driven organizations in which I had a deep interest and that could benefit from my expertise. Having grown up with three brothers, I have long had a keen interest in ensuring fairness for women and other minorities and look for organizations that support those interests as well as to improve the quality of life for individuals around the world. As a result, I have been involved with the YWCA, Rotary International, The House of the Good Shepard, and many other organizations over the years. Most recently I found that SUNY Poly has satisfied my desire to help others and make a difference in our community and our world. Raising money to provide scholarships for individuals who have a desire to learn but who need some help and encouragement, which thereby provides them with the foundation they need to realize a higher quality of life for themselves and their families is tremendously rewarding. I was fortunate enough to work for organizations that provided me with tuition assistance when I needed it to earn both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees; however, I realize few people have the support network that I did. The more money we can raise for scholarships, the more we can help people in need, which in turn raises the quality of life for our whole community.
How has SUNY Poly changed throughout your time as a member of the SUNY Poly Foundation Board of Directors?
When I first joined the Foundation over 25 years ago (known at that time as the SUNYIT Foundation), the organization was still in its infancy. We focused more on the general operational issues that most organizations do when they are just getting off the ground. We had no workable database to connect with our alumni and supporting our alumni association activities and a very small endowment. Most money raised went to providing scholarships—it was sort of a hand-to-mouth existence. We offered benefits to alumni and encouraged them to support the college when they had the disposable income to do so. Over the years, the volunteer board worked hard to develop a relationship with our alumni to keep them connected with the college, and to raise our endowment to ensure we had scholarship money for future generations. It has taken years of hard work to develop a professional fundraising organization that has grown to over $9 million. From struggling to meet our semi-annual scholarship obligations to being able to provide student scholarships and compete with private tier 1 institutions at a time when funding for SUNY colleges has been decreasing, is quite an achievement. I am so proud of all that we have accomplished over the years.
You are an alumna of SUNY Poly. How did SUNY Poly prepare you for your career?
It is hard to put into words how much SUNY Poly has done to help me further my career as a communications professional. To start, the professors have been so wonderfully knowledgeable and supportive. My degree is in business and it is critically important for the professors and adjunct instructors to have real-world experience to bridge the academic with the realities of business. My professors could relate their outside experience with each lesson and this stimulated my interest and passion in business and specifically marketing communications, which has helped give me the confidence to aspire to even higher achievements. Since I returned to college as an adult, I took my classes part time while working full time. Every class I took, I could immediately relate what I learned in class with what I was doing in my job. This increased my determination even more to continue my education and to be the very best I could be. Additionally, the more I applied what I earned in my classes, the more positive reinforcement I got from my employers, which in turn afforded me with greater opportunities for promotions and interesting work. I owe my career success to SUNY Poly and will never forget all they have done for me.
What is your fondest memory of when you were a student at SUNY Poly?
As I reflect on my years at SUNY Poly, I have so many happy memories. To start, I treasure the friendships of the students I have met over the years. Social media was in its infancy when I finished my most recent degree, but I have since re-connected with many of the students I met in my classes, both returning students with established careers such as myself, and younger students who were just beginning. This also stimulated another passion I have developed over the years, which is to mentor young adults who are just beginning to transition into the business world. As such, I could share my business experience with the younger students in class, which allowed for some very interesting conversations during and after class. I also treasure the relationship I built with my professors, who were so very supportive and encouraging. One of my fondest memories was when I first found out that several of my professors nominated me for the School of Business Dean’s award the year I graduated with my MBA. These were professors for whom I had great respect, and to learn that they took the time to write this nomination for me was something I will never forget. I loved my time as a student and continue to recommend SUNY Poly to students looking for a quality education at an affordable cost.