Willie Brown began his career at State Farm in 1971 before completing a business administration degree. He worked there until 2009, retiring as senior executive vice president.

Brown’s community service, passion for education, and determination to help young people succeed continues. He has leadership roles in countless service and charitable projects, including on ISU’s College of Business Advisory Council.

He was integral in renaming the COB facility as the State Farm Hall of Business. He also endowed a scholarship for diverse and nontraditional ISU business students.

Brown has led United Way campaigns, and worked with the Salvation Army, Relay for Life, and 100 Black Men of Central Illinois. He received the NAACP’s Roy Wilkens Award for lifetime achievement.

He is a member of the Hall of Fame for the College of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, and Bloominton High School. He has received the Martin Luther King Jr. Human Relations Award from the Bloomington-Normal Human Relations Commission.

Watch video of the 2014 Alumni Award recipients talking about how Illinois State changed their lives: