Campus: San Francisco -- November 8, 2007

SF State establishes the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Leadership Center
Receives major gift of Brown papers and artifacts

San Francisco State University President Robert A. Corrigan today announced the formation of the "Willie L. Brown, Jr. Leadership Center at SF State University" to educate and prepare students for public service with cities, counties and regional governments.

The Brown Center will be the first program at a major university dedicated to mentoring and developing political leadership at the local and regional level. In addition, SF State will be the recipient of Brown’s large and diverse collection of artifacts, videotapes and state legislative papers compiled during his nearly four decades of public service.

"Willie Brown is an outstanding alumnus of SF State (class of 1955), and we are honored that he will lend his expertise and energy to preparing the next generation of local political leaders," Corrigan said. "Mayor Brown has spent his entire career advocating for social, economic and education inclusion. His knowledge of government and how it works provides a practical, real-world complement to SF State’s strong academic curriculum and to our core values of educational equity and social justice."

The Brown Center will be housed at SF State’s main campus and will be headed by Steve Kawa, a long-time aide to Mayor Brown. Kawa served Mayor Brown in different capacities during the Mayor’s two terms. He was the Mayor’s Board of Supervisors Liaison, Legislative Director, Acting Budget Director and Deputy Chief of Staff. In 1983, Kawa received a B.A. in political science from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. and in 1989 he received a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

"I spent 15 years 'under the dome,'" Kawa said, "and I recognize the need to attract and develop talent in the public sector. To those of us who have a calling to government service, there are few practical programs available to prepare us. The Brown Center will become a prototype for training future leaders on how to tackle some our nation's most challenging problems -- education, public safety, housing, transportation, economic development and public health -- at the level where individuals can have maximum impact," he said.

Initially, the Brown Center will focus on placing and mentoring 40 upper-division SF State students in public sector positions and will establish and host the Brown Speaker Series, focusing on the 2008 local, state and national elections. The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Archives will be housed in the J. Paul Leonard Library, and will be available to students and scholars from around the globe. The gift significantly expands SF State’s renowned collection of textual, visual and aural California political and labor history.

"Willie Brown is one of the most important political figures in California history," said Roberta Achtenberg, chair of the California State University Board of Trustees. "We are privileged to have the benefit of his wisdom and common sense, combined with his passion for public education and his alma mater, SF State. This is a profound and significant way for Mayor Brown, SF State and the Cal State University system at large to train and inspire future California leaders, and to provide thought leadership and practical skill development to the public sector," she said.

Contact: Ellen Griffin, (415) 338-6990; (415) 338-1665; elleng@sfsu.edu


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