When the founders of the Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival considered who to name as this year’s International Executive of the Year, the name of Ken Brown, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, rose to the top.
“We thought there was no better person to honor as the executive of the year,” said David L. Acey, Sr., who founded the festival 30 years ago with this wife, Yvonne.
“Each year, we look in the community to try to find someone who would be deserving of the award, not only for academic achievement, but community work and dedication to their profession,” Acey said. “After having met him and looked at his credentials and the things he was doing for the community, we thought he met the qualifications and went beyond that.”
Dr. Brown received the award during the Business and Economic Development Trade Luncheon at the Holiday Inn Memphis Airport that kicked off the festival. The festival, which ran April 13-17, spotlights a different African country every year. This year’s honored country was Tanzania.
Acey cited specifically Dr. Brown’s work on international pharmaceutical delivery and supply chain safety. Dr. Brown is directing the development of the new Plough Center for Sterile Drug Delivery Systems on campus, and is active in the global pharmaceutical manufacture, delivery and supply chain safety efforts of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, an international forum supporting economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
Dr. Brown has hosted delegates from China and Africa at UTHSC to discuss pharmaceutical manufacture, delivery and safety issues. “He brought an African delegation to Memphis and expressed he would help any African country to get pharmaceutical manufacturing expertise set up in their country,” Acey said. “That was just phenomenal. That would help save lives in the future. That really touched me.”
Dr. Brown accepted the honor on behalf of the university. “It’s the university’s mission to help the people, not just in this country, but in Africa as well,” he said. “I appreciate what you do for Memphis with Africa in April. What we’re trying to do in Memphis is for the people in Africa and around the globe. On behalf of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, thank you all very much for your support.”