Office of the President
President Roger H. Brown
Farnsworth Blalock Photography
Berklee College of Music president Roger H. Brown brings a rich array of professional and life experiences to his job. Skills accrued playing recording sessions as a drummer in New York, administering United Nations humanitarian operations in Southeast Asia and Africa, and founding a company with his wife that now employs 22,000 people and serves more than 80,000 families have contributed to his effective leadership at the world's largest college of contemporary music.
Immediately after earning his bachelor's degree in physics from Davidson College (Phi Beta Kappa), Brown spent a year in Kenya teaching math and moonlighted by playing drums with an award-winning Kenyan gospel choir. Upon returning home, he enrolled in an M.B.A. program at Yale, but interrupted his studies to help alleviate a humanitarian crisis on the Thai-Cambodian border. Brown administered the Land Bridge food distribution operation under the auspices of CARE and UNICEF. The effort that Brown, his future wife Linda Mason, and others staged fed 25,000 people per day and within six months had averted starvation for countless Cambodians. Subsequently, Brown and Mason coauthored a book about the operation titled Rice, Rivalry, and Politics
While in Southeast Asia, Brown made recordings with musicians in refugee camps to preserve their traditional Cambodian music that Khmer Rouge rulers had suppressed.
After returning to the U.S. and finishing his studies at Yale, Brown and Mason served as codirectors of a Save the Children Federation initiative for famine relief in Sudan. The innovative program served more than 400,000 people, is estimated to have saved more than 20,000 lives, and became the blueprint for future large-scale U.N. relief efforts.
After several years abroad, Brown returned home in 1986 with a desire to serve American families. To that end, Brown and Mason launched Bright Horizons, now the largest worldwide provider of worksite child care and early education. Bright Horizons operates more than 750 high-quality child development centers for employers in 45 states, Europe, and India. Bright Horizons also operates eight elementary schools, private and charter. In 1996, Brown and Mason received the Ernst & Young/USA Today Entrepreneur of the Year award. They are recipients of the White House's Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership. In 2012, Brown and Mason were honored as Visionary Social Entrepreneurs at the Social Venture Network’s Hall of Fame Celebration. In 2013, Bright Horizons was named among Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For for the 14th time.
After 16 years of successfully leading Bright Horizons, Brown decided to turn his sights to higher education and accepted the position as Berklee's third chief executive.
In 2007, Brown launched Giant Steps, Berklee's first capital campaign, and the college raised more than $50 million. He initiated Berklee's Presidential Scholars and Africa Scholars programs that provide full-ride scholarships to top musicians from around the world. He has overseen the expansion of the City Music Program beyond Boston in an effort to provide educational opportunities for talented but economically disadvantaged urban youth. The program now has partners in cities across America. As well, Brown has led Berklee to adopt a more selective admissions policy that requires an interview and audition for all applicants to the college. Along with that effort, Brown oversaw the creation of a new advising program to support all entering students. Under Brown’s leadership, the amount of scholarship and financial aid available to Berklee students has grown from $9 million to $33 million.
Brown has helped the college enhance the student experience by establishing semester-abroad programs and by expanding the Boston campus through real estate acquisitions and the construction of a 16-story facility on Massachusetts Avenue. Brown worked with the city of Valencia, Spain and the Generalitat Valenciana to create a Berklee campus in Valencia that now offers graduate programs. Brown has been recognized for his accomplishments at Berklee with the Cruz de Honor from the provincial government of Valencia, Spain and the March of Dimes Franklin Delano Roosevelt Humanitarian Award.
About his aspirations, Brown says, “Berklee has produced artists who have won a collective 239 Grammy Awards, composed some of the great film scores of our time, written jazz and rock standards, used music as a healing force as pioneers of music therapy, and transformed the way people play their instruments and teach contemporary music. We have the opportunity to be a powerful force in the world to help train the next generation of leading music entrepreneurs, teachers, and artists.”
More About Linda Mason
Linda Mason is chair and cofounder of Bright Horizons, the largest worldwide provider of worksite child care and early education. She has been named one of Business Week's Best Entrepreneurs, and one of Working Mother Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Working Mothers in America.”
Mason is the author of The Working Mother’s Guide to Life, published in November 2002 by Random House. She has written and spoken broadly on early education and the issues of corporate work/life policies and challenges, including participating on White House work/life panels and initiatives.
Mason cofounded Horizons for Homeless Children, a Boston-based organization that serves the needs of homeless children throughout New England. She served as a founding member of the board of directors for the new Massachusetts State Department of Early Education and Care. She was also a member of the Governor’s Education Transition team in 2003.
Mason serves as chair of Mercy Corps, a $300 million international relief and development agency headquartered in the U.S. Mercy Corps operates in 40 countries serving 17 million people, with major programs in some of the most difficult environments in the world.
She lived for two years in France, where she studied classical piano at the Rachmaninoff Conservatory in Paris, studied French language and literature at the Sorbonne, and then worked for Booz, Allen & Hamilton management consulting firm in their Paris office.
Mason has a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management. She has held leadership positions on the boards of several important nonprofit institutions, serving as trustee of Yale University, chair of the Yale School of Management Advisory Board, trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, trustee of the Packard Foundation, and chair of Mercy Corps.