(Feb. 25, 2020) This February, as the nation honors African American heroes, the city of Philadelphia is paying special tribute to Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. Board of Directors Chair Lynette M. Brown-Sow. YAP is a nonprofit that provides community-based alternatives to youth incarceration and institutionalization in 150 communities in 28 states and the District of Columbia with international programs in Guatemala, Ireland and Sierra Leone.
Brown-Sow was among four leaders honored by the Philadelphia City Council as Living Legends. Also this month, Philadelphians will pay tribute to Brown-Sow at “Celebrating Black Woman Magic from 1694 to the Present,” the launch of They Carried Us: The Social Impact of Philadelphia’s Black Women Leaders (Arch Street Press). Brown-Sow is one of 95 women across many sectors whose stories are chronicled in the book by authors Allener M. Baker-Rogers and Fasaha M. Traylor.
Brown-Sow’s Living Legends honor came during a special ceremony at the Philadelphia City Council’s Feb. 20 meeting. She was joined by other honorees – Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Frederica Massiah-Jackson and educators Drs. Constance Clayton and Naomi Johnson Booker – along with dozens of friends and family members.
“The Living Legends recognition is made because sometimes people are so busy making history that they don’t take the time to look up and smell the roses and see the accomplishments and things that they have done,” said Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. “They are making a difference in other people’s lives every single day.”
Introducing Brown-Sow as she presented the resolution, Councilmember Cherelle Parker said it was her privilege to recognize her fellow Delta Sigma Theta sorority sister and Philadelphia alumna chapter member.
Councilmember Parker said Brown-Sow is a well-known leader in the city. “In her role as the Vice President of Government Relations with the Community Colleges of Philadelphia, Ms. Brown-Sow worked diligently at both local and national levels to ensure education for all. She worked with the American Association of Community Colleges as well as the White House to support tuition-free programs at community colleges and maintenance of funding for Federal Pell grants,” she said.
“Ms. Brown-Sow also served as the chair of the Board of Directors for the Consortium, a behavioral health community organization that pioneered a strategy of balancing the input of community leaders and medical experts to expand access to patient-centered behavioral health care models into individual neighborhoods,” Councilmember Parker added. In 2007, the Consortium named its newest service center the Lynette M. Brown Center of Hope.
Currently serving as chair of the board of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Brown-Sow has an extensive governance background that includes serving as a board member with the Philadelphia Tribune Co. Inc., NHS Enterprises, Inc. and The Board of City Trusts. She has been on YAP’s board since 2013, serving as chair since 2016. She has leveraged her considerable experience and influence to help the nonprofit partner with youth justice, child welfare and other systems to provide safe, community-based alternatives to incarceration and institutionalization.
A life-long Philadelphian and West Philadelphia High School graduate, Brown-Sow founded the Hardy Williams Education Fund, which provides scholarships for students interested in law and social justice. As chair and one of the founders of Women of Destiny, she has mentored other professional women of color in an effort to develop new pipelines of talent to serve area corporations and nonprofits.
Founder of L M Brown Management Group consulting firm, Brown-Sow continues to guide communities, businesses and government entities in constructing frameworks that promote progress and prosperity.
Brown-Sow earned a Bachelor of Science in Administration from Antioch University and a M.S.S. in Policy, Planning and Development from Bryn Mawr College. She received a Governing for Non-Profit Excellence certificate from Harvard University Graduate School of Business and a certificate for Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management from Harvard’s Graduate School of Administration.
As part of the celebration of Brown-Sow and others featured in They Carried Us: The Social Impact of Philadelphia’s Black Women Leaders, the honorees will place personal messages and items in a time capsule that the authors will present along with the book to Temple University’s Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection.