Jackson State University recently named alumnus Howard Brown Jr. as its new chief financial officer and vice president for business and finance. Brown previously served as deputy executive director for the Mississippi Legislative Budget Office and assumed his positions at JSU on Monday, May 3.
In his roles, of which he also serves as a member of the president’s cabinet, Brown is responsible for managing JSU’s business and finance divisions and has oversight over the university’s operating budget and financial affairs, including budgeting and forecasting, financial planning, accounting and controller functions, and investment management.
Brown has worked for the state LBO for more than 25 years, coordinating with the lieutenant governor, speaker of the House and all members of the Mississippi Legislature to formulate a $22 billion state budget. As the organization's deputy executive director, he managed 30 employees who performed fiscal and policy analyses and provided information technology support to 300 legislators and their staffers.
Born in Greenwood Miss., Brown graduated from Amanda Elzy High School and enrolled in Delta State University, where he received a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting in 1995. He earned his master's degree in business administration from JSU in 1998.
"Numbers always intrigued me when I was a child, and I grew up loving statistics and analytical work partly because my mother also had a financial background working for what is now the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District," Brown says. "When I moved to Jackson in 1995 to become an intern with the LBO and was looking into an advanced degree, the prospect of attending an HBCU appealed to me. JSU's close proximity to both my work and my home and the ability to take night classes made it a perfect fit."
Brown first joined the LBO as an intern in 1995 while still a student at DSU. He started out as a budget analyst and moved on to senior budget analyst and then deputy executive director, the second-highest position within the organization, by 2018.
"My work with the LBO has always been rewarding and made me feel accomplished in many ways," Brown says. "I feel that our office has long played a significant role in shaping government in an efficient way while working with limited resources. We've established a strong workplace culture and strive to be responsive to our state legislators and provide timely information so they can make solid decisions for Mississippi."
While with the state’s LBO, Brown serves as its liaison to the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus and provides budgetary support to its members for items pertaining to their legislative agenda. Brown assisted in the implementation of the Statewide Strategic Plan for Performance and Budgetary Success and oversaw fiscal analyses of all Mississippi Public Institutions of Higher Learning, community colleges and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Brown is also a member of the DSU Alumni Board of Directors and serves on its steering committee for Project SEC2, which is a state employee classification compensation initiative that the Mississippi State Personnel Board leads.
"When I got the opportunity to work with JSU, it seemed like a great way to use the skills I've honed through my work with the state legislature and give back to the community," Brown says. "Part of my duties with the legislative office was learning about the Institutions of Higher Learning's systems and how its budget assignments work, and that led me to work with all of our local universities that are part of IHL on policy. There is a great deal of commonality between my past and present work that should serve the community well."
Brown lives in Brandon with his wife, Shari Brown, who is a certified nurse practitioner with the Mississippi Board of Nursing. The two have been married for 25 and a half years and have three children, Howard III, Jocelyn and Allyson.