April 25, 2018

VSU’s Ryan Brown Pursues Passion for Helping Others as Legislative Aide at Georgia State Capitol

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Ryan Brown has his sights set on some big goals. He wants to help communities grow and thrive.

He wants to ensure children have access to proper education.

He wants to make an impact on the world that will benefit people for generations to come.

And he said a job in government is a great place to start.  

“I have always loved government,” said Brown, an organizational leadership major from Thomasville, Georgia. “I love government because of what it can do to help people. Look at Lyndon B. Johnson with Medicaid, Medicare, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965; Franklin D. Roosevelt with Social Security and the G.I. Bill; and going to the moon with John F. Kennedy.

“Those types of aspirations have all been inspired by government, and I think that government is the best place to help people in the long-term. We must continue thinking in terms of generations rather than years, quarterly profit statements or short-term political gains.”

Brown worked as a legislative aide during the 2018 legislative session — Jan. 8 to March 31 — at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. He helped to run the operations of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and also assisted Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia). 

His daily responsibilities included reviewing legislation and writing briefs that detailed the pros and cons of a proposed bill for Kendrick’s district as well as the entire state.

“I basically helped Rep. Kendrick to understand how her vote would affect her district and the state,” said Brown, the son of Eddie and Lucinda Brown.

He also helped push bills through committee and acted as a liaison between the Capitol and rural Georgia communities. The legislation he dealt with covered a diverse mix of issues, from Internet access for rural Georgians to funds for K-12 education.

“One of the things I worked on was human trafficking and organ harvesting,” he said. “There was a bill that went through committee to support the notification of people traveling to China that illegal organ harvesting is a really big problem there and that if you are trying to get an organ transplant, don’t get it from China. It’s a safety issue, but it’s also a big deal because those organs are harvested from prisoners and other illicit sources. That also ties into Atlanta being a global hub of human trafficking. This work is so important.”

Brown said that in addition to tackling new issues each day, a highlight of his time at the Capitol was meeting and interacting with the state’s leaders, including Gov. Nathan Deal, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and the members of the Georgia Supreme Court.

He said his time at VSU provided many of the vital skills he needed to succeed in his job, including critical thinking and strategy development. 

“VSU has been a wonderful experience,” he said. “I like the professors and the way they make you think. It’s not like you’re a number in the classroom. You’re an individual with a name. They pay close attention to you. There’s a genuine Southern hospitality that complements the education at Valdosta State.”

Brown expects to graduate in Fall 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership. He is a non-traditional student who first attended VSU from 2008 to 2013.

In 2012, he and a friend formed their own company, Organized Arts, which provided communities, nonprofits, and progressive political candidates with fundraising assistance, crisis management, board training, and communications and marketing services. Brown, 28, left VSU at the end of 2013 to work as a full-time independent consultant with Organized Arts. 

He held that position until December 2014, when he became the membership coordinator at the Association for Institutional Research, a global nonprofit that supports higher education professionals in the collection, analysis, interpretation, and communication of data. While there, he coordinated and managed online professional development opportunities for association members in Taiwan, South Africa, and a host of European countries. 

Brown worked for the Association for Institutional Research until the end of 2017, when he decided to finish earning his degree at VSU by taking online classes while also serving as a legislative aide at the Georgia Capitol. He is currently serving as the campaign manager for two Georgia House of Representatives candidates and a candidate for the Henry County Board of Commissioners.

After earning his degree, Brown plans to attend law school and hopes to one day become a United States attorney and practice in the area of civil rights.

Brown is a former member of VSU’s Mu Omicron chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, where he served as a regional board member from 2010 to 2012 as well as a national board member and national debate chairman from 2013 to 2017. He received Alpha Phi Alpha’s Southern Region Service Award in 2012. He worked as a student analyst in VSU’s Office of Strategic Research and Analysis (now the Office of Institutional Research) from 2009 to 2011. He also served on the University Planning and Budget Council and was a senator for VSU’s Student Government Association from 2009 to 2011. He was a member of VSU’s Model United Nations from 2011 to 2012 and received the Honorable Mention Award from the Southern Regional United Nations in 2011 and the Distinguished Delegation Award from the National Model United Nations in 2012. He also played a part in establishing two scholarships at VSU: the Alpha Phi Alpha Endowment Fund, which has raised $50,000 since its inception, and the Thomas and Pierce Scholarship, which was created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of racial integration at VSU.