"American business will know that the Department of Commerce has a strong and independent leader and a forceful advocate." So stated President-elect Bill Clinton on December 12, 1992, in nominating Ronald H. Brown to be the 30th U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
Secretary Ronald H. Brown's appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 21, 1993 and he took office the following day.
A lawyer, a negotiator, a pragmatic bridge builder, and the highly successful immediate past chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Secretary Brown brings wide experience to this newest challenge of building a strong private sector/public sector partnership. "The Department of Commerce's central mission must be to promote long-term economic growth," he has stated. "That includes rebuilding our industrial base and working with small business owners and minority entrepreneurs to create and expand employment opportunities."
Secretary Brown serves on the President's National Economic Council, the Domestic Policy Council and the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. He also is chairman of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, the Co-Chair of the U.S.-Russia Business Development Committee and the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission, and leads President Clinton's initiative on the revitalization of the California economy.
Formerly a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Patton, Boggs, and Blow, Secretary Brown is a member of the New York Bar, the District of Columbia Bar and the United States Supreme Court Bar. He also served as chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee under the Chairmanship of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Secretary Brown spent 12 years with the National Urban League as Deputy Executive Director, General Counsel and vice president for its Washington operations.
The first African American to hold the office of U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Secretary Brown was born in Washington, D.C. in 1941. He grew up in New York, and with the help of a scholarship attended Middlebury College in Vermont. He received his law degree from St. John's University, attending at night while working by day as a welfare caseworker for the City of New York. He served for four years in the Army in both Germany and Korea.
Secretary Brown currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Middlebury College and is chair of the Senior Advisory Committee of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harverd University. He is also an elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Secretary Brown lives in Washington, D.C., and is married to the former Alma Arrington, a full-time professional. Ron and Alma Brown have two children, Michael and Tracey, both lawyers.