Longtime resident, entrepreneur and civic leader Lauren Brown was named the 2013 Citizen of the Year during the 109th San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner.
Brown’s deep passion for helping people has led to a lifetime of service and fundraising efforts that make him exceptionally deserving of this award.
“Our community is more caring and compassionate place to live because Lauren has been a part of it,” SLO Chamber President/CEO Ermina Karim said.
This award is the Chamber’s highest honor, given at each annual dinner to a person who has selflessly committed themselves to making San Luis Obispo a better place to live and work. The award has been given every year since 1973, with the intent of honoring those whose volunteer spirit sets an example for others.
Brown’s commitment to helping others started shortly after college when he served time in the Peace Corps teaching high school chemistry to students in India. Upon his return to the U.S., he finished graduate school and started a company, JBL Laboratories, which he moved to San Luis Obispo in 1974.
Brown’s science and business acumen led the company to great success. Early on he developed a company culture that strongly supported environmental responsibility that later became the gold standard for the industry.
In 1991 the company was acquired by a national firm and he fought hard – and succeeded – in keeping the company located in San Luis Obispo after the purchase.
In 1999 the company was sold to Promega Biosciences which is still a vital part of the business community, employing 56 locally.
In addition to raising a family and building a successful business, Brown has been instrumental in helping many local foundations, organizations and groups over the years. As a longtime board leader of the YMCA, he led one of the most successful fundraisers to date. He was also a pivotal figure in raising money to rebuild the Methodist church after it was destroyed by arson.
He has served on many boards and city committees including, the SLO Chamber of Commerce, the public safety service committee, the city economic stability task force, Measures A and B and the 1990’s Measure O Initiative which raised funds to purchase open space. Brown’s company JBL was also one of the founding sponsors in the Performing Arts Center.
While Brown is incredibly dedicated to the local community, his care and service extends beyond our borders. Through the years, he has made many return trips to help the communities he served while in the Peace Corps in India. In 2010, at the age of 67, he rode a bike across the U.S. to raise funds for the schools in the areas he taught.
Brown’s passion and love for San Luis Obispo and the people that live here will continue to be an inspiration for years to come.
In the words of one of his longtime friends, Warren Sinsheimer “San Luis Obispo is a better place because Lauren has lived here for the past 40 years.”