Williamsburg/James City County
Commonwealth Attorney’s Office
5201 Monticello Avenue, Suite 4
Williamsburg, VA 23188
B.A. in English, cum laude Virginia State College (University), 1977
J.D., College of William and Mary – Marshall Wythe School of Law, 1992
Professional/business/civic/nonprofit organizations in which you are/have been involved and positions held:
Virginia State Bar
President, Williamsburg Bar Association, March, 2008 – Present (First African- American President)
President, Peninsula Bar Association, 1999- January, 2004
Board Member, Williamsburg Community Health Foundation
Board Member, Historic Triangle Substance Abuse Coalition
Life Member, NAACP, Williamsburg/James City/York Chapter
Charter Member, Williamsburg Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc.
Member, Virginia State University Alumni Association, Williamsburg Chapter
Member, New Zion Baptist Church
Faculty Member/Trainer, Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services – Finding Words
Who were the important mentors you have had and how did they impact your career?
My father, Cresson Brown, was my biggest supporter and most important mentor. He taught me to believe in myself, to be independent, to always stand up for what I believed in and to fight for justice for all people. He always told me “You can do anything you want, if you work hard.”
In my professional life, I have had many mentors, however, the most notable are:
Shade Palmer, who was my first boss – the Principal of James Blair Junior High School where I taught for 11 years before going to law school. Mr. Palmer saw potential in me and encouraged me to spread my wings and excel.
Howard Gwynn, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Newport News, who hired me as a prosecutor right out of law school. Howard pushed me to develop my trial skills and my confidence as a trial attorney. He had confidence in me and he not only taught by example, he gave me opportunities to prosecute every type of case. His mentoring has made me a better lawyer.
The Honorable Aundria Foster, Judge of Circuit Court of Newport News, who heard some of my very first cases and was always encouraging and patient. Her integrity, judicial temperament and her keen legal knowledge continue to inspire me.
What do you consider your biggest personal and/or professional accomplishment and why?
My greatest personal accomplishment is having raised a strong, confident, successful son who is extraordinary in so many ways. My greatest professional accomplishment came after I decided to change careers. I quit teaching after eleven years, and as a recently divorced, single parent, went to and successfully completed law school.
What advice would you give to a young person graduating from college this spring?
I have a niece graduating from UVA in May. My advice to her and any young person graduating this spring is – Follow your dreams and be persistent. Don’t be afraid to take chances and don’t be afraid to fail. To quote my father, “you can do anything you want, if you work hard.”
How do you achieve a balance between your professional life and your personal life?
I am married to a wonderful, wise man who understands and supports me in my career and community activities. . My family is very important to me and I am learning to prioritize and beginning to learn the art of saying “no” .
When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
I wanted to be a nurse like my mother. Fortunately for me, my very wise mother encouraged me to work as a Candy Striper one summer – and after that summer, I knew I would never be a nurse.
What is your favorite book or movie and why?
I have many favorite books, but two books that have had a great impact on me are The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Roots. These books changed the way I looked at the world.
What are two things about you that not many people know?
I intend to learn American Sign Language, and I would love to take a ball room dancing class.