Ron Brown, Executive Director of non-profit organization Save Mount Diablo, was named Business Person of the Year by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce last week. He began as the Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo, a 40 year-old organization which preserves land around Mount Diablo, responds to land use proposals, restores habitat, provides recreational opportunities and educates the public, in 2000. Brown has served the Walnut Creek community and surrounding areas for 38 years building bridges and collaborations.
Despite the recent recession and its inherent challenges, Ron has steadily increased and diversified fundraising to ensure Save Mount Diablo’s financial sustainability. As a result, Save Mount Diablo has preserved more land in the last 18 months than in the previous 10 years. He has also expanded volunteer opportunities and built bridges to sometimes unlikely partners. “Ron has led a diverse group of non-profit organizations as successful corporate members of the business community, recognizing that non-profit programs and our outstanding quality of life here in Walnut Creek are only possible in a thriving community supported by a strong diverse economy”, wrote Brian Hirahara of BH Development in his nomination of Brown for the award. “He is a great model business owner for the community.”
Non-profits aren’t often thought of as businesses. After all, their objective isn’t to make money as is the goal of most businesses. However, non-profit organizations need to run just as efficiently as a traditional business, sometimes more so, in order to be effective. “Being selected for this award is indeed validation for what those of us in the non-profit sector have always known, that non -profit organizations are businesses that manifest themselves in the ‘quality of life’ of the community”, Brown commented as he accepted the award. Linda Best, President & CEO of the Contra Costa Council, explained, “Ron recognizes the importance of a strong and diverse economy and works closely with the business community to achieve goals that benefit all residents.”
Ron, a Walnut Creek resident since 1974, lives in the shadow of Shell Ridge Open Space with his wife, Sharon. “When we stand back and take look at the landscapes that we’re preserving—not just for today but for our children and future generations—it brings a great sense of joy and satisfaction, that we’re doing something to preserve and heal the world”, Brown said of his work with Save Mount Diablo. His work extends beyond Save Mount Diablo, “Ron’s community involvement and his commitment have been highly visible and exemplary”, observed Deb Nordstrom, Board Member of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce.
The Business or Business Person of the Year is awarded to a Walnut Creek Chamber business or business owner with a major and stable presence in the community and who demonstrates entrepreneurial spirit and skill. The recipient exemplifies excellent corporate citizenship by contributing time and effort to its community and embraces a corporate culture that enhances the lives of its employees. The Chamber introduced the program in 2009 to honor and celebrate the exceptional businesses and individuals that have made a difference in our community.