41st Annual MLK Celebration Leadership Award Recipient: Adriane Brown

Adriane Brown SM '91

President and Chief Operating Officer of Intellectual Ventures.

41st Annual MLK Leadership Award

Adriane Brown SM '91 is President and Chief Operating Officer of Intellectual Ventures. She received the alumnus MLK Leadership Award for her civic work and commitment to mentoring young people. Brown was nominated by an MIT student who heard her speak during a recent campus visit.

Throughout her career, Brown has served as a mentor and inspiration to girls and young women, encouraging them to pursue science, technology, and engineering.

A tireless advocate of underserved youth, Adriane has focused her civic efforts – through her national board position with Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) – on ensuring young people finish high school, are employable, and are productive citizens. There she’s spent more than 10 years helping the students least likely to succeed get the support they need to graduate. On a local level, she was also involved in establishing a JAG chapter in Washington state.

Brown is also passionate about helping young people of all ages develop an interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She sits on the board of directors for the Pacific Science Center and regularly participates in events focused on STEM such as the Expanding Your Horizons conferences where she inspires girls with her own story as the keynote speaker. Most recently, Brown visited LaSalle-Backus Education Campus in Washington, D.C., where she addressed a group of fourth- through eighth-grade students about her career journey, the challenges she faced along the way, and how she overcame them to become both a leader and a role model for girls who want to pursue careers in STEM. By the end of her visit, 22 of the young girls signed up for the school’s STEM and robotics club.

In 1966, when Brown was eight years old, she and her brother integrated a previously all-white school in Virginia. By sixth grade, she was class president. She’s been a leader ever since, in the corporate world and, most recently, in developing an intellectual property marketplace.

Brown earned a BS in environmental health at Old Dominion University in 1980 and then went to work for Corning in New York state, earning her MIT degree while working her way up from shift supervisor to vice president and general manager of the environmental products division. In 1999 she took a job at Honeywell Aerospace in Indiana. She was promoted to run the engine systems division in Arizona, and she ultimately became president and CEO of Honeywell’s $5 billion Transportation Systems Group.

In 2010, she became president and COO of the patent licensing company Intellectual Ventures, which has a portfolio of 40,000 active patents and a global network of 4,000 inventors. Its fourth spinout company has a Global Good program that is developing a cooling system that can be used underneath the protective—but very hot—gear worn by health workers battling Ebola.

Brown and her husband of 20 years live in the Bellevue, Washington, area; she has an adult stepson and a teenage daughter. She returns often to MIT to speak to Sloan Fellows and spoke to Sloan students at the Dean’s Innovative Leader Series in November of 2014.

In 2014 she was honored as a Woman of Achievement by Legal Momentum, a nonprofit legal organization dedicated to the rights of women and girls.

“I didn’t know people like me when I was growing up,” she says. “Seeing someone who broadens and changes the image of who you might think you can become—that’s a powerful thing for girls.”

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