Spotlight On Brookklin Brown, VSI’s New Education Programs Manager
Brookklin Brown is a self-described “trailblazer.”
As a first-generation college graduate, she finished her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government from Howard University in 2019. This year, she will have earned her Master’s in Political Management from The George Washington University (GW). Throughout her higher education years, Brookklin’s experiences and accomplishments in the workplace far exceed most professionals in her age group.
Before joining the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) as their new Education Programs Manager in March, Brookklin worked as a Legal Support Specialist for Amtrak (2.5 years); served as a Research Assistant III for the Institute for International Economic Policy (IIEP) (6 months); and served as a Program Manager – Field Placement for George Washington University’s Law School (5 months). She was also engaged as a graduate student at GW while working in these roles. Furthermore, last November, she managed to find time to co-found P.E.E.C.E Homes LLC, a housing counseling and advocacy agency that helps young people achieve home ownership.
Perhaps more impressive than her resume has been her ability to finance her own college education. A Columbus, Ohio native, and one of 11 children, Brookklin initially wanted to move somewhere warmer after high school. After spending her senior year in Jacksonville, Florida, she realized that she wanted a climate that was “not so hot” and chose Howard University in Washington, DC.
“I had a recruiter from Howard tell me that I could get a full ride if I ticked all the boxes,” Brookklin recalled. “But when I got there, they told me they didn’t have the money, so I had to pay for school out of pocket.”
More determined than ever, Brookklin paid for her freshman year by working full-time as a manager at an Old Navy store. She was then accepted into a special program at Howard’s School of Law.
“It was a pre-law school where I was paid to take real law school classes – like a summer bridge program,” she said.
Through this program, she was introduced to the leadership at Howard, and successfully lobbied with them to earn a needs-based scholarship that also paid her outstanding balance. Brookklin exceled in the classroom all four years and graduated with honors. She also continued working various jobs to support herself during college, including roles with Howard’s Office of Undergraduate Studies and as a Spanish teacher at a local Montessori school. Brookklin even managed to finance international study programs to feed her passion for both dancing and Spanish-speaking countries during this time.
“I was in Columbia doing an article about coastal dance,” she remembers fondly. “I was there studying for writing and for my dance team and took part in a wonderful African heritage dance festival there called ‘El Petronio’ which honors the legacy of a famous coastal singer – they celebrate him every year in August. My study abroad program was facilitated through school on my own dime. For Mexico, I earned a partial scholarship. And for other study abroad opportunities, I was working full-time so I could save for six months in different intervals.”
Brookklin has visited Mexico, Columbia, Cuba, Panama, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. This spring, she is traveling to Costa Rica. Brookklin loves Central and South America so much that one of her bucket list goals is to travel to every country in the Southern Hemisphere.
While she no doubt has a very diverse background, VSI was particularly impressed by Brookklin’s experience with Amtrak. “I was essentially a legal technology specialist,” she explained. “I managed Amtrak’s Office365 legal hold tools, conducted legal research, managed online repositories and troubleshooting activities, and trained staff on technology. I also assisted with the management of a multi-million-dollar web development project. It was a lot of logistics and planning, which I like.”
Brookklin’s master’s work in Political Management will serve her well in her new role with VSI.
“This program is essentially organizational leadership and management,” she said. “They teach you thought leadership and how to act. Many of my classmates want to become elected officials or pollsters and analysts, but I am most interested in advocacy and am working on my certification to become a lobbyist.”
As the new Education Programs Manager for VSI, Brookklin’s core duties involve planning the organization’s two semi-annual conferences. She also provides support for the directors of various VSI committees by managing their online database, member profiles and administration upkeep. In addition, she will help with videography and coordinating projects for VSI’s social media team so that their online presence is spreading awareness in a visually pleasing way. Brown will also provide invaluable support for VSI members’ trade show presentations by managing VSI’s event registration process and serving as primary point of contact for external and internal event requests.
Brookklin describes her first month at VSI as a “smooth orientation.” She has enjoyed interacting with her fellow VSI team members and working on different projects at a healthy pace. She looks forward to visiting a couple VSI members’ manufacturing facilities this year with Lisa Dunn, VSI’s Director of Communications and Sara Krompholz, VSI’s Director, Technical, and Product Certification. And she is inspired by the vinyl siding industry’s commitment to sustainability and recycling, as well as the success of VSI’s workforce development program.
“As an educator, I really appreciate how VSI is training the next generation of ‘doers,’” she said. “Knowing that they have a strong infrastructure in place to train and certify people has given me the confidence to work for VSI.”
Don Browne is a writer, entrepreneur and local legislator who believes that the power of words can change the world. He provides unique writing services for clients in the construction, health care, IT and hospitality sectors. He has a passion for small business and start-ups, as well as writing about Irish history, family and corporate biographies. As a homeowner and father of four who is passionate about community development, Don looks forward to writing more about the exciting possibilities of creating traditional neighborhoods and more sustainable communities using modern materials.