Even when facing challenges, Howard Brown ’88 remains determined to move forward, devoted to his family and the Babson community and dedicated to inspiring fellow alumni and current students to give back.
The trustee and Babson Alumni Association president— “the first who lives outside New England,” says the Michigan resident proudly—signs every email, “With Babson Pride and Spirit.”
Howard’s passion for Babson drives him in part because the College and its community changed the course of his life. Growing up in Framingham, Massachusetts, he was recruited to play basketball at Connecticut College, but it wasn’t a fit. Then he took two Babson classes during the summer after his freshman year. “I ended up getting A-pluses,” he says.
Encouraged, Howard applied to Babson and became a full-time student. He settled in, enjoying classes, playing on the basketball team, and becoming a part of the Babson community. Graduating a semester early, Howard initially pursued a career in sales at high-tech startups and eventually created two ventures: PlanitJewish.com, which he says provided “the world’s first” online community calendars, and CircleBuilder Software, which he says served “the largest social networks in the world for faith and religion.”
But just a few years after graduation, Howard found himself facing a life challenge; he developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A fighter and an optimist, Howard didn’t let his trials slow him down. After rounds of chemotherapy, he underwent a bone marrow transplant at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and battled his way to remission.
With a renewed outlook, Howard moved to California in the early 1990s. Not knowing many people, he turned to the Babson network for support and began attending alumni events in Los Angeles, later forming the first Babson alumni group in Silicon Valley. As Howard became more established personally and professionally, he wanted to give back to the community that had helped him feel welcome. He volunteered to represent Babson at college fairs, wrote postcards to prospective students, attended more events, and spread the word among his sizable tech network about the school he loved.
In 2005, Howard and his family moved to Michigan, where he continued volunteering for Babson and increasingly assumed various leadership roles. He was elected to the Babson Alumni Association board of directors in 2006, and he has been instrumental in helping merge the Association with the College to foster more strategic alignment between the two. In 2014, he became the Association’s president and was re-elected in 2016. Through his service, he has become known as a guy who can—and will—do anything for his alma mater. “I’ll roll up my sleeves. I love it—it never feels like work,” he says.
When he’s not sharing his passion for Babson, Howard works closely with the Jewish community, specifically on interfaith relations as a past board president with the American Jewish Committee, whose mission is to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry. He also loves spending time with his wife of 23 years, Lisa, and his 16-year-old daughter, Emily.
Now Howard has another challenge: He is battling advanced colon cancer, discovered in 2016. Even facing new trials, he continues to stay a part of the Babson community and is especially proud of a new website for alumni and family called Babson Advantage. The site, spearheaded by Howard, offers exclusive alumni discounts and benefits, and the proceeds help fund scholarships.
“I keep giving back because I want to set a great example for my daughter—and for anyone,” he says. “Babson is on such a roll, and I want to keep that momentum going.”—Kara Baskin