Venessa A. Brown

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Associate Athletic Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer,
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Venessa A. Brown, PhD, is the Inaugural Associate Athletic Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer for Intercollegiate Athletics.  She was formally the Associate Chancellor for the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) and Chief Diversity Officer. She holds a tenured faculty appointment as professor in the department of social work. She also served as Associate Provost in Academic Affairs and Executive Director of the SIUE East Saint Louis Center (ESLC). 

Dr. Brown began her academic career in 1993 as an assistant professor of sociology and social work in the Department of Social Sciences at Greenville College (GC). Following in her commitment to accredited social work programs, Dr. Brown accepted a position at SIUE in 1995 as an assistant professor to start the Masters in Social Work (MSW) program. She was tenured and promoted in 2001, full professor in 2006 and department chair from 2006 – 2007. In this role, she contributed to the overall success of the BSW/MSW program being fully accredited.

Dr. Brown is a native of Missouri, earned her B.A. in Social Work and Psychology at Greenville College in 1983, MSW from Atlanta University School of Social Work in 1985 and a Ph.D. in Social Work with a Concentration in Statistics and Computer Science from Clark Atlanta University in 1994. After attending her master’s program, she worked for the State of Georgia as a child welfare investigator. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

Dr. Brown is nationally and internationally known for her commitment to public child welfare. Her expertise is in the area of child sexual abuse and she has also been recognized for teaching and international activities. She has worked with the juvenile court and superior courts on behalf of children. Her past students have become leaders in the region. In addition to publishing articles and book chapters she is the lead author of “A Promising Reality: Race, Culture and Gender in Cuba published by Peter Lang, and “Child Welfare Case Studies” published by Allyn & Bacon now Pearson. Forthcoming project is a textbook, Community-Based Child Welfare Practice with Multicultural Families.

Over the years, she has been a principle investigator on state and federally funded grants. Under her leadership as the Executive Director of the SIUE (ESLC) she oversaw grant funded programs totaling approximately $15 million. She also secured a $1million dollar cash gift to the University to open a state of the art STEM Technology Lab for the SIUE Charter High School in East St. Louis, IL. In 2018, she was instrumental in securing an additional $3.7 million dollar cash gift to continue STEM education for the Charter High School. Her current research focus is on mentoring, diversity and inclusion, child welfare history inclusive of people of color and international child welfare.