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January 29, 2024
ACSA is mourning the loss of former president David E. Brown, who passed away Dec. 16, 2023 at the age of 82. In addition to serving as ACSA President in 1990-91, Brown also worked for ACSA as Chief of Staff for the association’s leadership team.
David Eugene Brown grew up in Inglewood. As a young adult, he served as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Austria. Upon returning home, he attended Occidental College, where he met and married Ilse Kurtovich. Brown earned a B.A. from Occidental, as well as an M.A. and a Ph.D. in German literature from University of Southern California.
Brown’s love of education led him from teaching university German classes and high school history and government classes to becoming an assistant principal, a principal, and later, the superintendent of three districts: San Marino, Irvine and Napa Valley.
“Dr. David Brown’s leadership was kind, ethical and founded in service,” said Patrick Sweeney, who served as superintendent in Napa Valley from 2010 to 2018. “During his tenure as superintendent in Napa Valley, Dr. Brown sponsored innovation, like the development of New Tech High School, which is still a model of innovation today. Dave loved being with students. He genuinely enjoyed student sports and fine arts performances.”
Even following his retirement from Napa Valley USD, Brown remained active in the district by serving as an interim principal and attending sporting events.
“I would often talk with Dr. Brown at football games or superintendent meetings to seek his advice,” Sweeney said. “Dave had a quick wit and optimism for young people. I was fortunate that he positively influenced administrators, teachers, staff, and me.”
In addition to his leadership at the local level and with ACSA, he served as the WASC Executive Director from 2003 through 2013.
“ACSA accurately established years ago that ‘Leadership Matters.’ Principled leadership matters even more. This is no truer than it was in the case of Dr. David Brown,” said former ACSA Executive Director Wes Smith. “Principled leaders are driven by a strong moral compass; they lead with honesty and integrity. Dave was the epitome of honesty and integrity.”
When Smith was hired as ACSA Executive Director in 2013, it became apparent that his duties supporting members in the field required additional support for ACSA staff. The board unanimously supported hiring a chief of staff to round out the leadership team, and Brown was selected for the job.
“No one knew how important this hire would be when two years later I suffered a cardiac arrest that kept me out of work for months,” Smith said. “Without skipping a beat, Dave assumed the mantle and led ACSA through some significant challenges. We thrived during adversity because of Dave’s leadership.”
In his personal life, Brown enjoyed golf, spending time on his boat and serving his church. He is survived by his wife and four of his children.
“I was lucky to have worked with Dr. David Brown,” Smith said. “ACSA was lucky that he left retirement to, once again, serve our members; and all of us who knew Dave are indeed indescribably lucky.”
David E. Brown passed away Dec. 16, 2023 at the age of 82.
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