Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: Ron Brown

Life Lessons in Public Service

Maria Cardona and Secretary Ron Brown

Guest blog post Maria Cardona, Principal at the Dewey Square Group and a Political Commentator on CNN and CNN Español. She serves on the boards of several non-profit groups and has named several times as one of the top 100 Hispanic leaders in the country by Hispanic Business.

ED NOTE: Maria Cardona was the Deputy Press Secretary for Secretary Ron Brown and served at the Department of Commerce for six years during the Clinton Administration

Most everything I learned about public service, I learned from Secretary Ron Brown. He was the best kind of mentor, short on personal advice, long on teaching by example. The first time he walked into the Department of Commerce, he told his staff he wanted to meet the cafeteria workers and the janitorial staff. When he was taken to the cafeteria, the workers almost fainted. They had never seen the Secretary – any Secretary - walk into the cafeteria before. Some even cried. This exemplifies my biggest lessons from my time with Ron: to always meet people where they are, make it personal, and never think, no matter what title you have, you are better than anyone else in the room.

Ron had the ability to make you feel important no matter who you were. He was just as comfortable speaking with Saudi kings as he was shooting the breeze with homeless teenagers in the favelas in Brazil. His message was always the same no matter who he talked to: The United States business community was there to help bring more economic opportunity to their citizens, while expanding market opportunities for US businesses.

The Secretary would always say he was a big fan of “doing well by doing good.”  He was visionary about where the next opportunities for US economic expansion would come from, and he was unapologetic about making the deals that would help American enterprises sell more goods abroad, creating jobs and opportunities on both ends. But he never forgot about the people behind the progress. He would always want to meet the local business leaders, the workers, the families that were starting to prosper because of these expanded opportunities. Ron was always treated like royalty wherever he went in the world, but he never played the part.

Honoring the Memory of Ron Brown

Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown

Cross post from the White House Blog

The following blog post was written by U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank and Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation Jonathan Greenblatt.

Today, we honor the anniversary of the passing of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. Secretary Brown was a dedicated public servant whose untimely death during a trade mission to Croatia on April 3, 1996 ended his life far too soon. His vision continues to be important and today’s work at the Department of Commerce builds on his legacy. 

Secretary Brown served his country in Korea as a soldier in the U.S. Army and in the halls of Congress as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also broke down barriers – becoming the first African American chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the first African American to serve as U.S. Secretary of Commerce. In this latter role, he made perhaps his largest impact.

During his tenure at Commerce, Secretary Brown pioneered a focus on exports that helped to boost the U.S. economy in the 1990s and contributed to one of the largest periods of economic expansion in our nation’s history. During a time when emerging markets in Asia and Latin America were opening up to trade, Secretary Brown led a concerted effort to support this advancement and to secure access for U.S. goods and services. He was a proponent of free trade, seeing business as a powerful force to create good jobs at home and to accelerate prosperity around the world. He also was an advocate of fair trade, seeking to ensure that U.S. workers would be helped and not harmed by new trading arrangements that would increase flows of capital and commerce.

Secretary Locke and the Department of Commerce Celebrate the Accomplishments and Legacy of the Late U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown

Secretary Locke and Others Watch the Unveiling of Ron Brown Way

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke participated in a ceremony this morning dedicating a stretch of 14th Street in front of the U.S. Commerce Department building as Ron Brown Way.

With Secretary Brown’s wife, Alma, his children Michael and Tracy and their families as honored guests, Locke joined in paying tribute to the late Secretary who, with 34 others, lost his life while on a trade mission to Croatia 15 years ago.

“This is a fitting tribute to a man who was born in Washington, D.C. and spent his life working to deliver economic and social justice for people in this city, across America and, indeed, around the world,” Locke said. “The dedication of Ron Brown Way will help ensure that what Ron Brown did and what he stood for won’t ever be forgotten.”

Speakers at the celebration of Brown’s legacy included Ron’s son Michael, who is D.C. Councilmember at Large, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

Following the dedication ceremony, the Brown family joined Locke at the Commerce Department for a presentation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) flag that was flown aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown, and a ceremonial wreath laying. Locke spoke of Brown’s trailblazing efforts to extend economic opportunity to all, and of his fierce advocacy for the Department and the great people who work here.

Locke said that Brown’s work endures through the hundreds of dedicated Commerce employees who still believe in his mission for the department and work hard each day to continue his legacy of service.