Christopher M. Brown, lifelong international development specialist, fighter for human rights and dedicated family man and friend, died peacefully at his home with family and friends in Lake Placid, New York on March 23, 2014. He was 57 years old.
Shortly after graduating from the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Chris began, with his wife, Betsy, a remarkable more-than-20-year joint career with the United States Agency in Development (USAID). Together, they worked in more than 50 countries across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the former Soviet Union on issues of democracy, economic growth, health, food and hunger, and strategic planning. They were a team.
The son of Vince Brown, a senior USAID Mission Director (one of the first development officials appointed during the Marshall Plan), and Francoise Brown, from France, Chris was in many ways born into international development. Raised in Islamabad and Kabul, he learned Urdu and Dari as well as French and English. It was wonderful preparation for one of the greatest contributions of his career, putting schoolbooks in the hands of millions of children across Afghanistan immediately after the fall of the Taliban in Fall 2001. Chris was devoted to educational opportunities in Afghanistan, including the reconstruction of the American University of Afghanistan—which was built on the rubble of his former high school. His dazzling command of languages—he mastered at least seven— allowed him to communicate with so many around the world, to share directly his interest, enthusiasm and energy—and his love of dogs. He received his B. A. from Occidental College, his Masters and Ph. D. in agricultural economics (based on extensive field work in Liberia) from the Fletcher School.
Most importantly, Chris had an infectious zest for life and demonstrated how it is possible to thrive while living with cancer for twenty-three years. He embraced the world with a joy and energy that captured all around him. Kind and generous, he cared deeply for family, friends, and colleagues, and worked throughout his life to build a sense of community, bringing people together in celebration with food, music, and poetry. He loved the outdoors and had a passion for new adventures. An accomplished skier, snowboarder, water skier, wake-boarder, rock climber and kayaker, he surprised us all with his perpetual willingness to try new things—even extending to taking up ballet and giving his first (and only) recital at the age of 50.
A man of great courage and much joy, his faith gave him strength. A devout Christian Scientist, he embraced Judaism as part of his family faith.
Chis is survived by his wife of 34 years, Betsy Hulnick Brown, the CEO and President of Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York; his son Michael Lawrence Brown an attorney in New Orleans, his daughter, Danielle Raymonde Brown, a candidate for a Nurse Practitioner degree from Yale University School of Nursing; his mother, Francoise Brown; brother, Gregory Brown; sister, Valerie Brown Ewins; father and mother-in-law Don and Barbara Hulnick of Tupper Lake, NY and extensive family in the United States and France.
In lieu of flowers the Browns welcome donations to the Rotary Club of Lake Placid, the American University of Afghanistan Scholars Fund (www.AUAF.edu.af/giving/) or Planned Parenthood of the North Country NY (www.ppncny.org). Please note Chris Brown in the byline for any donations. The University is built on the site of the high school in Kabul that Chris attended.
A public memorial service will be held Sunday, March 30th at 11:00 am at M.B. Clark Funeral Home in Lake Placid, NY. Chris’s colleagues at Internews will be hosting a memorial service in his honor to raise funds for a scholarship program at the American University of Afghanistan. The event will be in the Washington, D.C. area and the date and details will be announced later.