Alumni Owen Brown appointed to WV Senate

On Oct. 7, during Gov. Jim Justice’s COVID-19 briefing, he announced the appointment of West Liberty University (WLU) alumnus Owen Brown to the West Virginia Senate 1st District seat vacated by William Ihlenfeld. Ihlenfeld had resigned from the seat he received in 2018 to reprise his position in the Northern District of West Virginia. The district covers Brooke, Hancock, Ohio and part of Marshall counties. Brown will serve in the Democratic caucus until the next election in 2022.

Since 2015, Brown, a Wheeling, W.Va. resident, has served as the president of the West Virginia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP.) Brown was also employed for 28 years as an organization development specialist for the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA). While working at this organization, he served as the human and civil rights coordinator. During his time at WVEA, he also spent a lot of time in the 1st district, which he will be representing. An additional achievement includes Brown being chosen as a delegate to the United Nations to review the North American strategy against Apartheid in South Africa in 1983.

Brown has attended Belmont Technical College, WLU and West Virginia University (WVU) where he earned an associate’s degree in electrical/mechanical engineering, a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in agency counseling.

Brown holds the title of being the first African American to serve in the West Virginia Senate in over 30 years; according to news reports, the first African American man ever to serve in the state Senate. Before him, Marie Redd was the first African American woman elected to the state Senate in 1998. Representing Cabell and part of Wayne county, Redd was later defeated by Evan Jenkins in the 2002 election. Brown was chosen from a list of candidates that included former state delegate Randy Swartzmiller and Shawn Fluharty.

Brown has stated that he hopes to stop people from moving from the area, locally and into other states. He mentioned that it’s costing us invaluable resources such as jobs and entrepreneurs.

For more information, please contact Michael Antley or visit Director of Media Relations, Maureen Zambito’s press release regarding the appointment of WLU alumni Owen Brown to senate.