Colony Brown '91
“I never had a big plan for my career, nor did I have everything mapped out. Each job has been a leap of faith. Yet, there has been a common theme of building and growing organizations and taking some risks,” says Colony Brown ’91.
Brown is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at ZERO—The End of Prostate Cancer. “Our mission is in our name, we want to end prostate cancer. We plan to achieve our mission through advancing research, encouraging action, providing education and supporting men and their families.
As a student at Radford University, Brown majored in communication. “At that time, no one really knew what jobs were available with a communication degree. I just knew I wanted it to be my major. I’m a firm believer that strong communication skills are the key to achieving success both professionally and personally,” she says.
Not only was Brown passionate about her major, she was passionate about the university. “It was during my first year that I decided to train as a Radford tour guide. I wanted to share my passion for Radford University to prospective students. It was a great feeling seeing someone who had been on one of my tours, as a student on campus the following year,” says Brown. By becoming a tour guide and sharing her love for school, Brown left Radford University with the realization that what she learns outside of the classroom is just as important as what she learns inside of the classroom.
Once Brown graduated, she started her career in Washington D.C. She worked at a nonprofit with the mission to educate television and radio journalists and to increase diversity in newsroom management. “During my eight year tenure, I learned a lot about marketing, event planning, fundraising and how to effectively manage a team,” says Brown. From there, Brown joined the dotcom boom. She helped to market a start-up event registration company called Cvent. “It was a bumpy ride. I’m happy to see that Cvent is one of the very few companies that actually survived and is currently thriving as a publicly-traded company,” she says.
In 2002, Brown decided to take a leap of faith and apply her entrepreneurial experiences to marketing a major national law firm, Dickstein Shapiro LLP. She says, “Law firms were just beginning to embrace marketing. It was a unique opportunity to introduce both traditional and nontraditional marking programs to help grow their business.” Over the 11 years that Brown worked there, she held four different positions, rebranded the firm, helped open several new offices, and developed and executed the firm’s 50th anniversary brand strategy and programming.
“One of the most unconventional projects I worked on while at Dickstein was hosting a series of concerts to foster client relations. These concerts featured our actual clients including Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden, the former band members of The Doors, and the wife of Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson. It was a memorable way to connect with clients and distinguish our firm from the pack,” says Brown.
Now for the last year and a half, Brown has worked for ZERO—The End of Prostate Cancer. “I feel incredibly lucky to have found this organization. I realized how much I missed working in the nonprofit space and being mission-driven for a cause that I felt passionate about. With one and seven men impacted by this disease, I knew I had to make a difference and work toward eliminating the chances for my sons to have to suffer from the disease,” says Brown.
Over the past few years, ZERO has grown substantially. The organization has added a new co-pay program that has provided more than 12,000 patients access to funding for lifesaving and life-extending treatments in 2014. The ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk series now has nearly 40 events across the country to raise awareness and funding. They also offer a comprehensive suite of educational materials to support every stage of the prostate cancer journey.
“Every year we host the ZERO Summit in D.C. to connect our advocates with their elected officials to address the importance of funding prostate cancer research. One of my favorite parts of that event is meeting patients and their loved ones who have been impacted by the disease. Learning first-hand from who we are fighting for and how they are overcoming obstacles every day is an inspiration,” says Brown.
Brown encourages students to accept to new challenges to help find their passions and to uncover their strengths. “I still have to remind myself to get out of my comfort zone, because when we do, it will only help us get better,” says Brown.