With a quiet demeanor and a calling for architecture, Robert L. Brown, Jr. uses his life’s passion as a means to educate, inspire and give back to his community. Reserved and laid back, he uses a blend of humor and wisdom to explain his childhood, his life and his desire to serve.
It all began … in the small town of Dublin, Ga. where Brown’s father introduced him to architecture.
My father inspired my love for architecture. He was a builder and I worked with him for many years. There was no greater feeling than working side by side with my dad. He taught me so much!
A growing congressional district. Board Chairman Brown serves the fourth congressional district which includes DeKalb, Rockdale, Gwinnett and Newton counties.
The 4th district is one of growth and progress. In addition to the district’s physical growth—it was once just DeKalb County, but has expanded to include more counties—we are seeing new opportunities for growth and development as a result of funding from Georgia’s Transportation Funding Act.
Learning from peers. Brown is honored to serve with members as passionate as he is about addressing the public’s concerns and solving transportation challenges. In his 11 years on the Board, Brown has worked alongside many board members – past and present – and credits them for sharing knowledge that has allowed him to better serve his constituents and the state.
I can honestly say, there is not a Board member that I have served with that I don’t respect or one that I do not work with to solve issues. I’ve served with many great people and this current board is fantastic! We look for solutions and work together.
True public servant. Having served on several boards, Brown says his biggest accomplishments have been through service to his community.
Architecture – although important – is just one part of what makes me who I am. What I am most proud of are the opportunities I’ve had to give back through organizations like Georgia Power, Grady Hospital, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and Smart Start Georgia. Getting involved in my community is what really counts.
Leader versus follower. Recognizing the essential role of leaders and followers in an organization is something Brown understands well. From being the president and CEO of R.L. Brown and Associates and the newly elected chairman of the State Transportation Board to his time as an entry level architect, Brown knows the significance of both.
Throughout my life, I have been a leader and in other times I was a follower. Certain characteristics of a great leader can only be learned by following. And when you’ve worked as long as I have, you want to give others the opportunity to lead and develop their leadership abilities.
Brown says the best lesson he learned about leading and following came from his wife.
In my home, I am no leader. I may think that I am but I’m not. My wife taught me a lot about leadership. It is less about who is leading and more about ensuring the goals are accomplished together.
Stay motivated. Brown’s extensive background in architecture and community service does not stop him from finding new ways to build on his passions.
I have a mission when I wake up. Every morning, my mindset is to do something great. I tell myself that I’m going to make a difference and help someone today. There are so many things in society that need to be achieved. I am just one of many striving to achieve them.
Sing like no one is watching. Despite all Brown has accomplished in his professional and personal life, there is one skill he has not mastered.
I can’t sing at all. I always wanted to, but was never able to get it, he jokes. By myself, I’ll sing aloud but it doesn’t sound right. If I could sound like anyone, it would be James Brown.
Family man. Brown and his wife Barbara celebrate their 40th anniversary this year. They have two children – Robert, who works on the business side of his father’s architecture firm and Robyn, who attends law school. As much as I tried to get my children to go into the architecture field, they had other plans and that was ok. I told them, when you pick a profession, choose something you love. It’s no fun waking up every morning hating to go to your job. Brown says if his family were to describe him, they would all say the same thing. My wife and children would say I am a man that absolutely loves what he does!