LaVanda Brown’s 25+ year career includes years of on-the-ground experience in social services for underserved populations. She has led and advised several nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including Family Promise of Greater Savannah, Gang Alternatives of Miami Florida and Clarke Community Services of New Orleans Louisiana, as well as others in the behavioral health, employment, and community services arenas. A passionate advocate for causes including the promotion of gender equality and racial diversity and helping under resourced teens and homeless populations, she envisions a world where differences are not just tolerated but celebrated.
During her career, LaVanda has developed strategic plans resulting in more positive community interventions, created a homeless case management system, and was the first to institutionalize the Racial Equity Institute in Charleston South Carolina to help organizations address institutional and structural racism. Her work has garnered awards including the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Best Practices Award for Transitional Housing and Case Management, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Picture Award for outstanding community service presented by Representative Wendell Gilliard and Mayor John Tecklenburg. She holds a dual bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Wesleyan College, a master’s degree in counseling from Georgia Southern University and is a Certified Diversity Equity and Inclusion Trainer through the National Coalition Building Institute.
Joining the YWCA of Greater Charleston in February 2016 brought her full circle as her very her first paid job at 13 years old was as a junior lifeguard and camp leader at the YWCA of Savannah, Georgia. “The mission of the YWCA is one that is very much in line with my personal mission of empowering women and celebrating differences,” she says.
LaVanda currently serves on the Mayors Commission on Homelessness and Affordable Housing as the housing subcommittee chair and is a member of the Board of Directors of Enough Pie an organization dedicated to using creativity and empowerment to improve Charleston’s Upper Peninsula.