Grappling with Legacy: Rhode Island's Brown Family and the American Philanthropic Impulse

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 4:22pm -- lwhite

The 2017 Fall Life of the Mind Salon Series continues on Wednesday, October 18 with Sylivia Brown discussing her new book, Grappling with Legacy: Rhode Island's Brown Family and the American Philanthropic ImpulseWhen Sylvia Brown’s father handed much of his inheritance to Brown University in 1995, the gesture maintained a 300-year family philanthropic tradition.  Less than a decade later, at the inaugural symposium of the University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, one speaker declared “there were no good Browns.” Grappling With Legacy was born of the juxtaposition between these starkly opposed perspectives. Sylvia has delved into one of the country’s largest family archives to understand what fuels a multi-generational compulsion to giving: Self-interest? A feeling of guilt? A sense of genuine altruism? The Brown family mirrors America’s evolving urge to do good — from colonial era charity, to reformist initiatives in the Early Republic, to the philanthropy of the Gilded Age, to social impact investing today.


Eldest of the 11th generation of Browns in Rhode Island, Sylvia Brown was attracted to development economics from an early age. Following her BS and MA degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, she pursued a professional career in various aspects of international development, from Wall Street to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Ten years ago, a course in strategic philanthropy redirected her focus to the non-profit sector and eventually prompted a return to her Rhode Island roots. She has recently launched Uplifting Journeys, offering immersive donor education in locations around the world.


A wine and cheese reception will be held at 5:30 pm, followed by the salon at 6:00 pm. Free for Members; $10 for Non-members. This salon is at capacity. 



This fall’s Salon Series is generously sponsored by MICHAEL HAYES.

Program Type: 
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm