The Civil Service Council will feature a civil service employee at Illinois State University each month to highlight an exceptional colleague and the outstanding work being done on campus! This month get a chance to learn about and applaud Grace Brown, Financial Manager, Office of International Studies and Programs .

What is your position on campus and how long have you been with the University?

My career at Illinois State University began when I joined the College of Education in 2004, first at U-High, then in the Educational Administration and Foundations (EAF) department.  Having worked internationally with different global entities and businesses, in manufacturing, banking, and the nuclear power industries, and an internship in foreign affairs while in college, I joined the Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP) in 2008.

As the Financial Manager (official title: Business Administrative Associate) for OISP, the major responsibilities of my position involve all the aspects of the department’s financial activities, which includes management of funds from domestic and international sources and the management of numerous accounts.  Being a member of the OISP Leadership Team, I serve in various capacities and interact with all the OISP units, namely:  Study Abroad, International House and Special Programs (I-House), Management Development International (MDI), and Asia Initiatives (AI).  I also work and interact with faculty/staff in the different areas on campus, especially to facilitate or co-facilitate the various OISP programs and initiatives, such as: International Advisory Council (ISAC), Faculty International Travel Grant (FITG), Fulbright ISU, International Seminar Series, International Education Week, and the International Conference. 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?
Throughout my career at ISU, I have been privileged to meet and work with truly great people across campus and beyond.  In OISP specially, I have worked/currently work with very supportive and collaborative supervisors and colleagues. 

On numerous occasions, I led/co-led students, program participants and scholars on socio-cultural trips and send-offs.  Sometimes at a moment’s notice. I have met partners, prospective clientele, guest speakers and dignitaries from other countries.  I have also lectured in the MDI program and have provided trainings to faculty/staff leading study abroad programs and other initiatives that are supported and funded by OISP. 

Working in a safe environment, being provided with the resources to accomplish my work effectively and efficiently, the opportunity to participate in professional development and leadership training and having been given the opportunity to contribute to the successes, goals, missions and aspirations of the department and ISU over the years, are what I find most meaningful and rewarding about my work.

What are your hobbies or favorite past-time?
I can honestly say that I do not have a particular hobby!  Rather, I have dabbled in a few different things that are of interests to me. Some that are interesting to me are fashion and design, photography, dance, culinary, plants, shopping, travel, and flying. The skills that I’ve learned served some purpose on occasion. For example, dancing.  I joined a group of fellow volunteers and performed dance numbers on stage for a fundraising event for a hospital. 

Travel, to me is enriching, and the idea of being able to fly a small plane is interesting.  So, I signed up for ground pilot training course, and did test flight afterwards.  In 2014 the International Conference Committee assigned me the task to conceptualize and decorate the conference venue. The theme was to promote study abroad and launch the Generation Study Abroad (GSA) initiative at ISU. The GSA logo looks like a swirl and a plane taking off. I came up with an airport runway with seven airplanes. I decorated the styrofoam airplanes with lights, decals, and Redbird stickers. The seven airplanes represented the seven continents for the study abroad destinations. It was a big hit!

While it was a fun experience to have piloted the small plane, it was not easy to talk to the control tower, navigate, watch the altitude, and enjoy the view at the same time.  I have flown since then but on commercial planes to countries like Germany, France, Ireland, UK (Belfast), Canada, Philippines, Australia, and within the United States.  I’ve collected postcards and magnets, and I’ve also saved a few local currencies for my coin collection.

What else would you like others to know about you or your time at ISU?

Originally from the Philippines, I immigrated to the United States in the mid-80’s, arriving in mid-October.  It was a proud and sentimental moment for me and my family when I became naturalized as a lawful citizen after completing, submitting, and meeting all the requirements of the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS). {Now called U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)}

Prior to working at ISU, I worked part-time as a substitute staff and substitute teacher in the K-12 setting and volunteered in schools and the community while raising my children.  While at ISU, I have been involved or participated in different activities on campus, such as:  Graduation Marshall, Health and Wellness Ambassador, search committees, scholarships review committee, food drive, and Executive Board -Treasurer for AsiaConnect.  I also continue to learn and be involved in professional organizations to keep up to date on trends in international education, finance, technology, and other things. 

I’m a proud Redbird Mom! My children are all ISU alumni!  Two of them participated in Study Abroad so I can be confident to say that I am also a Global Redbird Mom! Additionally, two of my children are now married to Redbird alumni so we are a proud Redbird family! As ISU employee and a parent of ISU Redbirds, I’ve had the honor of presenting the diploma (covers) to all my children at commencement on their graduation day. This is a wonderful ISU tradition!

More about Grace Brown from former Supervisor, Luis Canales, Associate Provost for Illinois International at University of Illinois:
Grace has many qualities that make her an outstanding university employee. First, she has a solid understanding of financial affairs and of the financial systems of the university. Additionally, Grace has developed excellent relationships with business offices across the university, which makes the work of OISP a lot easier. Grace also has a good grasp of university policies and procedures and follows them to the letter.

Second, Grace is the ultimate team player. Even though her area is financial management, she collaborates closely with other OISP units to carry out their programs and services. During implementation of programs, Grace anticipates the needs and takes the initiative to do what is necessary to meet them. She does not see new projects or initiatives as challenges but as opportunities to grow and develop new skills.

Third, Grace has an outstanding work ethic. She is smart, dependable, and trustworthy. When presented with new situations, Grace uses her institutional knowledge and experience to address them. If she does not have the expertise or the knowledge to handle new situations, Grace is very resourceful and is able to find a solution. When I was working with her, I could depend on her to deliver one whatever assignment I would give her. I knew she was reliable and that I could trust her to get things done and to do them right. She was one of my most trusted staff members.