Janet H. Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, will be the featured speaker at the 189th Centre College commencement ceremony, to be held Sunday, May 20, in Newlin Hall of Centre’s Norton Center for the Arts. As part of the ceremony, Brown will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
The Class of 2012 is the largest in Centre’s history, with 287 students expected to graduate. For the second year in a row, the entire ceremony will be broadcast live as a webcast via the Centre website.
Brown has served as executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) for its entire 25-year history. Established in 1987, the CPD is the nonpartisan, nonprofit corporation that sponsors and produces televised presidential and vice presidential debates during each general election.
John A. Roush, Centre’s president, has known Brown since 1992, when he was a key organizer of the presidential debate at the University of Richmond.
“I was impressed then, and remain so now, at the breadth of insight Janet brings to this significant undertaking,” Roush said.
“The CDP, under her capable leadership, has helped men and women across this great nation make what is their most important decision as American citizens,” he added. “I am grateful that this year’s graduates, their families and our entire campus community can meet this impressive individual.”
Prior to joining the CPD, Brown served in appointed positions at the White House and the Office of Management and Budget. She also served on the staffs of the Hon. John C. Danforth in the United States Senate and Ambassador Elliot L. Richardson at the State Department. In 1986, she was the recipient of a fellowship in the Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Leadership Program.
Brown has a bachelor’s degree from Williams College, where she also served as a trustee from 2001 to 2006. In addition, Brown has served on the Board of Trustees of The Potomac School in Mclean, Va., and also chaired the alumni executive committee of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she earned a master’s degree in public administration.
Brown’s many honors include the Williams College Bicentennial Medal and an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of San Diego. In 2001, she was named Public Administrator of the Year by the Marsh Institute for Government and Public Service at Shenandoah University. Currently, she serves on the board of MDC of Durham, NC, a nonprofit research organization specializing in workplace literacy and economic development.
Brown is married to Michael F. Brewer, co-founder and board member of OncoTx, LLC, a start-up venture pursuing new approaches to cancer therapy.