BROWN, CONELLA JEAN COULTER (26 Sept. 1925 – 9 Jan. 2022) was an educator and the first woman Assistant Superintendent appointed by a major Ohio School District. She was, at the time of her appointment in 1972, the highest ranking African American woman in Ohio in the field of education.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri to Carrie Coulter and Charles P. Coulter, she studied at the Kansas City Conservatory of Music attending from 1948 until 1949. She went on to the University of Kansas City (now the University of Missouri-Kansas City) becoming one of the first African American students to graduate from the newly desegregated university, earning a bachelor's degree in history and government in 1953. After graduation, unable to obtain a teaching job in Kansas City due to her race, she moved to Cleveland where she became a social studies teacher for CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS until 1963, and received the Martha Holden Jennings Scholar award that same year.
After moving to Cleveland, Coulter met and married Arnold Brown, a Principal at Franklin D. Roosevelt Junior High School. In 1961 she earned her master's degree from CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY and continued to work in the Cleveland School System. She was the Assistant Principal at Rawlings Junior High School from 1964 until 1965, and held positions as the Assistant Supervisor and the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent in the Office of Human Relations from 1965 until 1972, and she also served on the Equal Educational Opportunity Committee of the Council of the Great City Schools.
In 1972 she became the Assistant Superintendent of Cleveland Public Schools, the only African American female to hold that position in Ohio at the time. She was opposed to busing and believed that integration needed to begin with the neighborhoods and with the school staff, and in 1973 she joined a committee of teachers, parents, and community members to devise plans to integrate Cleveland schools. She retired in 1980.
She was a member of many social and civic organizations including KARAMU FOUNDATION, Delta Sigma Theta, Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Delta Kappa Gamma Society, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE (NAACP), and the Federation of Community Planning.
She was also the Vice-President of the FOREST CITY HOSPITAL Board of Trustees and served on the board of the National Council on Alcoholism, and the Board of Directors for the Christian Children Fund. Additionally, she served as board of trustees at Albion College, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Free Clinic, and ST. JAMES A.M.E. CHURCH. At the age of 96 she founded the Student Aid Mentoring Ministry (SAMM), an organization created to help children of color overcome challenges. Conella Coulter Brown died in 2022 and is buried at XII Gates Memorial Gardens in Kansas City, Missouri.
View finding aid for the Conella Coulter Brown Papers, WRHS