On Tuesday, March 18, former President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Carol R. Brown addressed the Chatham community in Campbell Memorial Chapel, after having received the 2014 Hollander Award for Women in Leadership earlier this year.
After a welcome from Chatham President Esther Barazzone, Tom Hollander, husband of the late Barbara Stone Hollander, creator of the Hollander Award, introduced Ms. Brown.
“For me, this is an emotional evening, introducing Carol [Brown], who was so close to my wife and my family,” Hollander said.
Mrs. Hollander, Chatham College for Women Class of 1960, transferred from Pennsylvania State University in 1959. At Chatham, she met Brown who was her professor. The two became good friends and colleagues.
In 1993, Mrs. Hollander decided to create the Award for Women in Leadership to recognize one woman who “has made significant contributions to her community and who serves as an exemplary role model for other women” each year, according to the event’s program. Since her death, her husband has continued the award in her memory.
Previous Hollander Award recipients include former Pennsylvania congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, current Pennsylvania congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, and co-founder of MoveOn.org Joan Blades, among others.
In her lecture, Brown spoke much about her professional life. After receiving a Master of Arts at the University of Chicago, Brown came to Chatham to teach in 1959. In 1975, Brown’s husband died, leaving her four young children to support.
To do so, she became a Deputy Controller for Allegheny County, which was an unusual position for a woman to obtain at that time, since “Pittsburgh was a white, Anglo-Saxon, male-managed city.”
She later became the head of the Allegheny County Parks Department. According to Brown, Pittsburgh in the 1980s was a much different place than it is today. The city experienced economic decline even earlier than other rust-belt cities.
“What we now call our thriving Cultural District was frightening, actually” said Brown.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust was created “to bring the city to life at night,” said Brown. “There was a very genuine community disbelief that it would work.” The Trust, however, has achieved success through community effort and has gained many supporters.
Brown supports her successor J. Kevin McMahon’s initiatives to make inexpensive programming accessible to Pittsburgh’s public. In her opinion, the next important step for the Trust is to bring programming of the best quality to younger audiences and to those who do not usually have the opportunity to experience it.
Brown is a proponent of women in leadership positions. She believes that while steps have been taken to increase gender equality, success has not yet been achieved. “Increasing female leadership is a very big initiative in other countries, as well as our own, but other countries may be leading the way,” she said.
According to Brown, the United States strongly encourages other nations to involve females and minorities in leadership, yet only 20 percent of the US Senate and less than 20 percent of the House of Representatives are women.
“I think we should not be discouraged, though, by these challenges, but be encouraged to step forward and accept the challenges of leadership,” she said.
Brown advises women not to be shy if they are offered a leadership position. “If you are invited, in your career path, through a door where women cannot usually go, by all means go through; then hold it open for other women to follow,” she said.
She also advises women to be altruistic, to pursue something about which they are passionate, and to continue internal growth throughout life.
According to Brown, the most successful people are not necessarily people who have had the most successful careers; they are people who have led the most meaningful lives, filled with selflessness, enthusiasm, and personal expansion.