Judy Brown is an educator, speaker, facilitator, poet and writer whose work in organizations revolves around themes of leadership, change, learning, dialogue and creativity.
She holds a Ph.D. from Michigan State University, and has served as a White House Fellow, Special Assistant to the US Secretary of Labor, Chief Financial Officer, Assistant Dean and Director of Executive Programs of the College of Business and Management at the University of Maryland, and Vice President for Seminars and Cooperative Programs of the Aspen Institute.
Dr. Brown teaches leadership for the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and has been a Senior Fellow of the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership.
She is a founding consultant member of the Society for Organizational Learning, the community of practice organized around the theories and practices of the five disciplines of the Learning Organization, first articulated by Peter Senge at MIT.
Her several years of work in the auto industry began with a request from a top Ford executive to head a team to design a four week organizational learning program for engineers and managers. The impact of that course resulted in her working with manufacturing plant teams on the management and cultural shift from traditional manufacturing to “lean manufacturing.”
Among her clients have been Ford, Canon, The United Way, The Girl Scouts of America, The World Bank, Chrysler, Sprint, AT&T, Herman Miller and numerous non-profits and governmental agencies.
She helps organizations discover common ground even in the midst of dissension, turbulence and complexity and she characterizes herself as a "thinking partner" or "learning partner" although others think of her as a professor, public speaker, educator, and poet.
In a sense, all of her work is about helping people recall deeper principles and their own essence in order to connect with the authentic in themselves and in others, and to uncover common ground within their work. Much of her work takes the form of dialogue, enabling people to create thinking-based learning structures (often within the work environment) that allow them to deal comfortably and competently with matters of culture, feeling and spirit.
A mid-westerner from the small fishing village of Leland, in northwestern Michigan, her heritage is that of agriculture and Cooperative Extension, which has given her a commitment to the practical use of ideas, theories, research and science as a way to transform our lives and our work.
For many years, she has been linking leadership, learning and creativity as a framework for sustainable change--the kind of change that allows for, and nurtures engagement, even in times of turbulence. She was a contributor to Learning Organizations (Renesch and Chawla) Her own books include The Choice; A Leader’s Guide to Reflective Practice; The Art and Spirit of Leadership, and two collections of her poetry: The Sea Accepts All Rivers and Simple Gifts. With eight colleagues, she has completed a book, Flourishing Enterprise: The New Spirit of Business, released August 2014.
As a Quaker, she is interested in organizational processes which incorporate reflection and inquiry. As a writer and poet, she is intrigued by the power of language and metaphor to shift our thinking and open us to new perspectives. As an executive she is interested in how leaders sustain energy and a sense of purpose and direction. And as a scientist she is interested in understanding more fully how it is that we experience openings into greater awareness, and how those experiences allow us to gather our energies in powerful ways on behalf of transcendent, as well as social and organizational purposes.