David Brown

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David Brown

Template:TOCnestleft David Brown is Chief of staff at Office of Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan.


David Brown was born and raised in West County and attended West Contra Costa public schools. He grew up in El Sobrante helping his parents run Canyon Swim School, the family business that is located next to their house. He went on to Stanford University where he competed on the varsity swim team and was twice elected Student Body President.

The tradition of community service runs deep in the Brown family. His father, Fred Brown, is a well-known coach who has helped thousands of young people stay on the right track. Dave's mother, Carol Brown, is a respected public health nurse who has worked for more than three decades to improve the quality of health care for local children and families.

David Brown lives in El Sobrante and is married to Emily Chang, an executive director for a local non-profit organization.[1]


Studied US History at Stanford University.

Stanford activism

"Peoples Platform has done much to serve the student body"

From a 5 June 1990 column by David Brown in The Stanford Daily;

WHEN I ARRIVED at Stanford, I never thought that I would be involved in student politics at all, much less in the midst of a controversy over a supposed MarxistLeninist cult manipulating Stanford's student government. My freshman year I spent my time swimming as a part of the varsity swim team, training at UC-Berkeley in the Navy ROTC, skimming my Western Culture readings and doing crazy things with my dorm, Madera. I cared about campus issues and participated in a couple of things, but I didn't really see what I could do. But after seeing students around me take action to counter injustices such as racism and to shape the direction of their own education, I decided that I too wanted to be a part of the movement for democracy at Stanford. I volunteered to help with the 1987 You Can Make a Difference Conference, which addressed "Institutional Racism: I also joined the effort to bring about changes in the Western Culture program. Through this involvement, I met other students who cared deeply about issues and about one another. These students put in numerous hours working to change society and to make life better not only for students at Stanford, but also for the outside community. I tried to better understand the world and in that process I participated in numerous discussions and attended several programs, including some sponsored by Student Unity Network. We discussed world and national issues, ranging from Nicaragua to Eastern Europe to the struggles of Pittston coal miners in Virginia and, yes, we discussed socialism.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, afraid of discussing and understanding new ideas. And, yes, my politics and views do guide my actions. I believe in government, on whatever level, that has an eye for progress, addresses the most crucial issues of its constituents and is truly responsive to the needs of the people. This is my vision for America, and while I am at Stanford it is my vision for the ASSU. Thus I am now and have always been committed to serving and representing the will of Stanford students. And despite all the euphoria and excitement surrounding Gorbachev's visit to Stanford, the ASSU is not now nor has it ever been "manipulated" by any outside "communist" forces. After two years of serving the student body as a member of the Council of Presidents, I have learned a great deal. In many ways, I really enjoyed it. I got a chance to meet hundreds of students, students who come from so many different kinds of backgrounds and offer so many varied and fascinating perspectives[2]

March on Sacramento

Along with Andrew Wong, Steven Phillips was a principal organizer of the April 1987 March on Sacramento that drew 8,000 people to Sacramento to support expanded educational opportunities for students of color. The March on Sacramento was the largest post-Vietnam rally in the State Capitol.[3]

Other key organizers, all friends of Phillips included Julie Martinez, Colin Cloud Hampson, Lisa Le and David Brown.[4]

Peoples Platform

After several weeks of uncertainty, in late October 1988, the ASSU Senate had a new chair. David Porter, an ally of the Peoples Platform minority and Progressive Student Coalition, assumed the post after an hour of closed debate at last night's senate meeting. Porter, a graduate student in industrial engineering, defeated juniors Dana Klapper and Kelvin Wong, neither of whom are associated with a party. The position of chair, which is normally filled in the spring, was vacated abruptly two weeks ago when computer science graduate student Richard Vaughan announced he would be leaving Stanford in January and thus resigning his post. Porter's victory marks a consolidation of power for the Platform, which also controls half the senate and the Council of Presidents. Porter ran and lost last spring against Vaughan, who was not identified with the platform. The secret vote, which senators said was "very close," reflected the party line. Senator Chris Gacek, a graduate student in political science, said, "The vote wentthe way you would have expected it to go."

Porter's ties to the Platform may help improve relations between the senate and the COP, which historically have been less than ideal. Last year a non-Platform COP squabbled often with the Platform-controlled senate. "It's definitely a plus, but I wouldn't say [relations] are going to ride on that," COP member Canetta Ivy said. "The fact that he is supported by the Peoples Platform is now a moot point, because he has to be objective." According to COP member David Brown, Porter's ASSU experience will help bring the senate and COP together more than his ties to the Platform. Porter has served three previous years as a senator and was a member of the 1984-85 Council of Presidents.[5]

"New Slate"

BECAUSE we believe that one group offers a forceful, unified, effective voice to work for change in the bureaucracy of the ASSU and throughout the campus, The Daily endorses A New Slate of Mind for Council of Presidents in the Spring Election to be held Wednesday and Thursday. Senior Stacey Leyton, junior Miguel Marquez and sophomores David Brown and Canetta Ivy have an ambitious agenda. Their goal is to revamp the traditional role of the COP, transforming it from a primarily functional, administrative group to a conduit and facilitator of discussion on political issues that affect the educational climate of the University.[6]

Big gains

The Peoples Platform, a political coalition of student ethnic and progressive groups, scored considerable gains in last week's ASSU election by placing nine of 10 Platform candidates in the ASSU Senate and by filling the office of Council of Presidents with its own slate, A New Slate of Mind.

Junior Miguel Marquez, member of A New Slate of Mind, said he was satisfied with the success of the Platform. Marquez said the existence of an organized party made the campaign and elections more "issue-oriented" than in past years when he said "name recognition" played the major factor. Marquez said the party "puts out a real platform" that improves the election so "people know what they're voting for." Although Marquez acknowledged that the Platform has received criticism because of its progressive agenda, he said he hopes such "petty politics" do not interfere with ASSU projects in the future. "If you have that polarization, the ASSU gets nothing done," he said.

For the second year in a row, the top vote-getter for undergraduate senator was a Platform candidate. Junior Julie Martinez garnered 799 votes, 30 more than her closest competitor, Amol Doshi.

Marquez said the explanation for his slate's victory was simple. "People are looking for a change," he explained. "Both slates were capable of running the COP — we just offered a different approach," he said. The new COP members are sophomore David Brown, sophomore Canetta Ivy, senior Stacey Leyton and Marquez. Although voters approved most of the student group fee requestson the ballot, five groups were denied funding this year. In an unprecedented fee request vote, the BSU lost its request for $24,419.[7]

Envisioning a 'rainbow society' at Stanford

December 7 1988 Sophia Shing wrote in The Stanford Daily that embers of minority communities, student leaders and faculty commented on various concerns and ideals for a Stanford with more mature diversity and sound minority life. Mary Dillard, chair of the Black Student Union, said in her vision of an ideal Stanford environ

Chair of the Asian-American Students Association Brian Kim said, "Unless we have evenly divided power structures, then the students of color do not have the type of representation they need."

Delia Ibarra, co-chair of the MEChA, said Stanford has the potential to be "truly pluralistic" because of the quantity and quality of its students of color. Ibarra argued that "having racist emotions doesn't mean that you're racist."

Daniel Bao, speaking as a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Community Center, said he has found the Stanford community to assume that there are no problems in minority life unless something surfaces in public.

Tracey LeBeau, chair of the Stanford American-Indian Organization, shared Dillard's sentiments. She sees the administration "pushing the responsibility of change onto the color coalition when it should actually be a shared endeavor."

History Prof. Kennell Jackson echoed Bao's criticism of the laborious University procedure for dealing with minority affairs. He suggested implementing changes to address the problems rather than launching studies to verify the existence of the sore spots.

Although Allison May, a disabled staff member at the Disability Resource Center, said physical disabilities are often a "less hostile and touchy topic," than race relations, she noted that they sometimes prove "a lot harder for people to deal with."

Molly Sandperl, assistant director of the Disability Resource Center, commended the administration for its support, but observed that handicapped students face insensitivity and ignorance among their peers.

David Brown, a member of the Council of Presidents, said he hopes students might work together for "a rainbow society where the individual is respected for (his or her) uniqueness and not in spite of it." One's uniqueness might also be called race, difference, sex, ethnic heritage. And some argue that how one frames the issues determines the quality of debate.

Psychology Prof. Lee Ross suggested the negative connotations associated with the word "racism" create unnecessary awkwardness in talking about differences.[8]

Slate of the Times

Stanford Daily, April 13, 1989

In 1989 Aimee Allison, served on the Stanford Council of Presidents, with Chin-Chin Chen, David Brown, Ingrid Nava. All were elected on the Slate of the Times ticket, which was supported by the Peoples Platform.


To some students, recent events at Stanford (1989) serve as reminders that nationwide institutional racism exists, and that few people seem prepared to acknowledge or confront failings at the educational level. In light of the October defacement of posters at Ujamaa House and last year's Western Culture debate, the newly-formed ASSU Committee on Democracy in Education has spearheaded efforts to address issues of educational rights on campus. The question of democracy in education has long been a concern of students of color organizations. Last year, this question prompted the formation of the Students United for a Democratic Education which, under this year's Council of Presidents, has evolved into the Committee on Democracy in Education, an ASSU special task-force committee devoted solely to educational concerns. Issues addressed by the committee this year include the need for better recruitment and retention of minority students and the demand for a relevant multi-cultural curriculum. The group is also working toward fairer systems of tenure and financial aid. The committee was established, according to co-chair Kathleen Coll, to "make education more relevant to a changing society."

Since it was formed in September, the committee's membership has grown to nearly 40 students. To increase efficiency, the committee late last quarter split into two smaller work groups, one dedicated to the promotion of ethnic studies, the other designed to address student concerns about recent teaching assistant budget cuts. As their first project, the ethnic studies sub-committee coordinated a series of cross-campus dorm discussions to facilitate dialogues on racism and its links to education. Sophomore Hillary Skillings, co-chair of the ethnic studies group, said organized dorm discussions often help students "talk about the fear of talking," providing a peaceful atmosphere through which individuals can air issues they may have previously found uncomfortable to confront.

The TA sub-committee, led by juniors David Brown, a COP member, and Katherine Van Uum, has begun an investigation into the effects of recent TA budget cutbacks in the School of Humanities and Sciences. According to Brown, the cuts have left many students fearful that the general quality of education might suffer. In meeting with department chairs, the group has found that more often than not, budget cuts translate into fewer and larger class discussion sections, with fewer TAs readily available to aid students, Brown said.[9]


Before becoming active full-time in government, David Brown was an educator in the West Contra Costa schools.

He is also a businessman. In 2002, Brown and his wife, Emily Chang, launched a small business in West County that provides fundraising services to local non-profit organizations and public agencies. In addition, Brown is a co-founder of JMPT Inc., a successful technology company that provides public and non-profit agencies with software tools and policy expertise.

Brown made his mark on East Bay politics as the top policy aide to former Alameda County Supervisor (later Assemblywoman) Wilma Chan and as Chief of Staff to County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker. He also spent nearly two years as the lead budgetary and policy analyst for the Oakland Board of Education.

During the past ten years, Dave has been a leader in the fight to improve education and health care on a local and state level. In particular, he has helped increase funds for local school-based Healthy Start initiatives, has spearheaded a task force to expand health insurance for children, and has worked to strengthen partnerships between local governments and schools.[10]

LRS membership accusation

According to an article in the May 23 1990 Stanford Daily, six prominent campus activists were members of the League of Revolutionary Struggle.


The group was defended, in a letter to the paper two days later by a group of eight other campus activist;

Richard Suh says, in the May 23 Daily, that League of Revolutionary Struggle members "are leading progressive politics on campus . . . because they are the best and the hardest workers." He and others "who asked not to be identified" then "charge" that Elsa Tsutaoka, Stacey Leyton, David Brown, Gina Hernandez, Steven Phillips and Ingrid Nava are members of this League (presumably because they are some of the best and hardest workers on campus). All six deny being members of such a group, which the author then uses to imply that they must in fact be members, since the organization is supposedly secretive. The absurdity of such reasoning is apparent, but what concerns us is that irresponsible charges that have serious and detrimental implications for individuals' lives are being published on the basis of rumor and innuendo. Those "accused" by this article deserve our respect and support because of their being the "best and hardest workers."
The "infiltration" of Stanford by these six hard workers has given us the leaders of Stanford's anti-Apartheid and pro-CIV movements, the coordinator of the 1987 You Can Make A Difference Conference, three student body presidents, a Phi Beta Kappa in history, fighters for the expansion of the Asian American Activities Center and El Centro Chicano, key volunteers and speakers on the 1987 and 1990 YCMAD Conferences, an RA, members of the varsity track and swim teams, a dancer in Ballet Folklorico and much much more. The Daily has come right out and said that Stanford students are too stupid to think for themselves. The League of Revolutionary Struggle has been running things all along, using students for its own ends. But we, those who should know, assert that Stanford students are not dupes and that progressive student politics on campus are decidedly democratic. When a particular plan of action is proposed by any student, others weigh their options and then agree on a path of action.
It is ironic that the six community members you name have themselves been some of the staunchest advocates of democratic processes. Just out of curiosity, what is wrong with being a Marxist-Leninist? Last time we checked, it was still legal in this country to hold any political beliefs or belong to any organization without alerting the media. Stanford should ask itself why radicals feel the need to avoid explicit mention of their politics. It is easy to get tagged as a radical at this university and have one's ideas and actions written off. To avoid censure you keep your head down and keep your criticism in the mainstream. The odd thing is that many of us are in agreement with Marxists and even that blacks, Latinos, women, homosexuals and many others are oppressed or at least suffer the effects of past oppression? We may disagree with the League's ultimate goals or projects, but is it impossible to work with them where we do agree? (If indeed we could really find them.) The need to avoid this kind of red-baiting will lead student groups to ask radical members to leave in order to avoid trouble. This process can only lead to the stifling of discussion and the weakening of student groups by throwing out "the best and hardest workers." How long before we start hearing that familiar old question before we can participate in student politics: Are you now or have you ever been ...

No comment

Council of Presidents member David Brown and former COP member Stacey Leyton are both believed to be members of the League, according to a number of sources. Brown refused to comment. Leyton denied that she was a member or that she had any knowledge of the League’s membership at Stanford.[11]

"A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond"

Unity, January 28 1991, issued a statement "A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond" on pages 4 to 6.

This group was a split in the League of Revolutionary Struggle which soon became the Unity Organizing Committee.

Those listed as supporters of the call included David Brown, former student body co-president Stanford University. .

Unity Organizing Committee

According to the The Stanford Daily, Volume 199, Issue 9, 14 February 1991, a group of Stanford students, faculty and staff are in the process of organizing a local committee as part of a new national coalition dedicated to progressive change in the United States.

Known as Unity, the organization hopes to promote “fundamental change in [the U.S.] policy system,” said sophomore Adriana Martinez, who is helping introduce the coalition to the Stanford campus.

Martinez said Unity values “true multiculturalism” – minority groups working together with mainstream white people who favor progressive change.

Among the more than 100 people who signed the article are several affiliated with Stanford, including Black Community Service Center Director Keith Archuleta, ASSU senators David Brown and Mae Lee and Council of Presidents member Ingrid Nava.

Brown has been a Stanford distributor of Unity newspaper for the past three years. Recently, he said he has played an active role getting students involved in the local committee.

About 35 Stanford students are now forming the local committee, which is intended to focus primarily on educational rights issues. Local Unity groups at other California campuses have initiated a lobbying effort against planned 40 percent to 60 percent tuition increases at University of California schools, Martinez said.[12]

Unity article


David Brown and Gina Hernandez contributed an article to the May 1992 issue of Unity.

School board

In 2004 David Brown was a Candidate for Board Member; West Contra Costa Unified School District.[13]



  1. League of Women Voters of California Education Fund Full Biography for Dave Brown
  2. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 70, 5 June 1990 ]
  3. [1]
  4. [Brown is the New White, Steve Phillips, page 16]
  5. ]The Stanford Daily, Volume 194, Issue 20, 21 October 1988]
  6. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 193, Issue 35, 11 April 1988]
  7. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 193, Issue 41, 19 April 1988 ]
  8. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 194, Issue 49, 7 December 1988 ]
  9. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 195, Issue 3, 3 February 1989]
  10. League of Women Voters of California Education Fund Full Biography for Dave Brown
  11. [ Michael Friedly League has played little-known role in campus politics First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 63, 23 May 1990.]
  12. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 199, Issue 9, 14 February 1991]
  13. League of Women Voters of California Education Fund Full Biography for Dave Brown