Scholarships | Africa Scholars Program
Roger H. Brown and Linda Mason Statement and Background
Farnsworth Blalock Photography
Berklee President Roger H. Brown and his wife Linda Mason have extensive experience living and working in Africa. Brown speaks publicly about the three mentors in his professional life—two of whom are African. The first, Francis Lutomia, was the headmaster of the Matende Harambee Secondary School in Kakamega, Kenya, where Brown taught physics, chemistry, and mathematics after graduating from college in the U.S. Lutomia was a born teacher and led Brown through extensive readings of African literature, as well as religious, political, and anthropological materials. Lutomia nurtured him through two bouts of malaria and introduced him to Kenyan popular music, even securing him an opportunity to sit in on the drums with a few local bands. Together, Lutomia and Brown expanded Matende by building a new girls' dormitory, a new science building, and a teacher's residence; initiating gardening projects; building a solar power demonstration; and pioneering sustainable water collection technologies, among other projects.
The second of these mentors was Hassan Gibreel, the district commissioner of the Um Ruwaba District in Kordofan, Sudan. Gibreel was a serious man, a devout Muslim, and the political leader of a very large region of Sudan devastated by the famine of 1985 and 1986—the worst in recorded Sudanese history. In collaboration with Gibreel, Brown and Mason led the Save the Children organization to design a program to distribute emergency rations to the extensive population of the region, resulting in a significant reduction in malnutrition and mortality in one of the hardest hit parts of Sudan during the famine. The program depended heavily on the support of Gibreel and his governmental apparatus in hiring local Sudanese young people who set up the distribution centers near the rural villages of the region, thus preventing mass exodus into the cities and allowing the largely agricultural region to recover more quickly when rain finally returned. Gibreel demonstrated remarkable leadership in the face of a collapsed economy (in which the price of meat plummeted as animals starved and the price of grain skyrocketed reflecting the failed harvest). Without his guidance, the program simply could not have been imagined.
Brown and Mason, using the skills they learned from these gifted mentors, established Bright Horizons Family Solutions, a company which manages child development centers for hospitals, corporations, universities, and other organizations across the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada. With the proceeds from this effort, they funded this African Scholars program in thanks to the kindness and intelligence of the many people they came to know while working in Africa, particularly Lutomia and Gibreel.
Mason continues to be significantly involved in Africa. She serves as the global chair of Mercy Corps, an international relief and development agency operating in 45 countries, including 10 African countries. Having lived and worked in the Sudan for two years, she continues to be deeply involved in efforts to bring peace to Darfur. She has traveled to Darfur twice recently, and initiated a project to create a collection of music by Berklee students, faculty, and alumni to support programs that serve women in the region. She has traveled and worked significantly throughout Africa, traveling most recently to Niger and Nigeria.