Getting to Know Community Partner Greg Brown

When Heidi Gullett, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration (CHI Center), has a new idea or a nagging question, she often turns to Greg Brown for insight. "Greg is always incredibly generous with his time and expertise,” says Dr. Gullett. “His commitment to serving others and fighting for racial equity, his decades of teaching and on-the-ground work—he’s a mentor and an inspiration to me and many others.”

Gregory Brown

Mr. Brown, a mainstay of Cleveland’s policy and non-profit communities for more than 40 years, is executive director of PolicyBridge, a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy think and action tank; a part-time instructor at Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs; an active member of many initiatives, committees and boards; and a CHI Center adjunct faculty member and community partner.

In his work at PolicyBridge, Mr. Brown focuses on six issues of importance to minority communities: economic development, education, urban redevelopment and revitalization, social justice, workforce development, and health and wellness.

He and his colleagues explore these issues in-depth, examining their histories and mechanisms, in order to create strong bases of evidence.

And yet, as he explains, studying the issues is not enough. “We need to understand what we can do about the problems we face. From my perspective, "We spend a lot of time admiring problems, but don’t have the will to make the tough decisions to change.”

Although he never expected to be involved in health care issues, Mr. Brown has become a leader in Health Improvement Partnership-Cuyahoga (HIP-Cuyahoga), a consortium dedicated to ensuring that all community members have the chance to be healthy.  As chair of the organization’s Subcommittee on Eliminating Structural Racism and, with Dr. Gullett, Steering Committee co-chair, he helps guide HIP-Cuyahoga’s focus on eliminating structural racism. He views this work as a natural outgrowth of his long-time focus on addressing diversity, inclusion, and racial equity through strategic partnerships and alliances. “Working with HIP-Cuyahoga has been very rewarding,” he states. “I really believe it’s a great example of what we mean by collaborative endeavors in multi-sector approaches to tackling systemic problems.”

In his multiple roles as thinker, advocate, teacher and leader, Mr. Brown has developed an appreciation for both “the beauty and the difficulty” of the work he does. “I always talk about the yin and the yang of life,” he explains. “For every benefit there’s a challenge, and for every challenge there’s a benefit. As long as we’re progressing and moving in the right direction, it’s…  serendipitous.”