Velynn Brown

What do you do at CEI?
I facilitate trainings in the non-profit, corporate, faith-based and education sectors. I also provide personal and professional coaching and support for individuals and communities of color. I develop curriculum, strategies and tools to assist in strengthening equitable practices in the workplace and in everyday life.

What were you doing prior to CEI?
Before CEI, I was the Parent University, Program Manager for the Black Parent Initiative where I provided quality classroom learning and practical teaching opportunities to 1100 Black parents and children resulting in more than 200 focused hours of literacy engagement and educational advocacy. I was also responsible for maintaining ongoing communication, feedback and support to Portland Public School District, teachers, facilitators, partners and stakeholders ensuring more favorable programming and equitable system change.

I have also had the amazing privilege to work as Elevate Oregons’ Program Director and first Teacher/Mentor and National Spokesperson and Mentor at Friends of the Children. I am still known as “Mrs.V” to over 200 students and mentees in the Portland/Metropolitan area.

Why do you do this work?

As a native Northeast Oregonian I understand the discomfort, disparities and complexities of growing up as a Black woman in one of the whitest cities in the nation. Despite the challenges I have also experienced and witnessed true healing and real change in hearts and institutions that chose to dismantle racist pride, permanence and privilege. As a mother of three and mentor to many I must do all I can to secure the dignity, safety and hope to the next generation.

I know the unique challenges facing individuals and communities of color and want to use my life experiences and professional growth as a pathway for others to follow. With supportive parents, strong role models, passionate teachers and unwavering community advocates, I was constantly guided towards my full potential despite institutional barriers and unfavorable odds – I must give back in the same way.

What do you believe?

The work of equity is a gift to our own humanity and it is the only way we can truly heal our racially divided world.

I believe every individual holds within them the power to love, to forgive and be healed. This transformation only comes when both truth and courage are held as the highest standard and individuals are held accountable first to themselves, and then in community.

What is a question that guides your work?
Am I my brothers’/sisters’ keeper?

Quote that resonates with you about this work?
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”-Martin Luther King Jr.