The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has named Dion Brown as its new president effective February 26. Brown is currently the founding executive director of the National Blues Museum in St. Louis, Mo.
“It’s an honor to join and lead the Freedom Center at this point in my career,” says Brown. “Given the challenges our society is facing, on many fronts, the mission of this vital institution is relevant now more than ever in bringing diverse points of view together in constructive dialogue.”
Brown brings a wealth of museum, management and branding experience to the position. At the National Blues Museum, Brown helped the new start-up grow and flourish being recognized by CNN, National Geographic and the New York Post as a “must see” museum. As the Freedom Center approaches its 15th anniversary, Brown will be responsible for the development of a comprehensive strategic plan addressing programmatic and capital needs.
“On behalf of the board of directors, we are pleased to welcome Dion to the Freedom Center,” says board chair, Rev. Damon Lynch, Jr. “His experience, leadership and vision will drive the organization forward for years to come.”
Brown became the founding executive director of the National Blues Museum in June 2015. His previous role was as the executive director of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Miss. While museum programming, tours, and attendance greatly expanded under Brown’s leadership, he simultaneously raised funds and balanced the organization’s budget and positioned it as a viable business and a strong community resource and champion. In 2013 he was recognized by the Delta Business Journal as one of its Top Minority Business Leaders. Prior to his leadership at the BB King Museum, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Exploration Place in Wichita, Ks. He directed a staff of more than 70 people, and managed the day-to-day operations of the museum and its $5 million budget.
Brown holds a certificate of fundraising from the IUPUI School of Philanthropy, a bachelors of science in human resources and a masters of science in leadership from Southwestern College. He is also retired from the United States Air Force after 21 years of service.
Former president, Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, retired from the Freedom Center in March 2017 and now serves on the board of directors.