Nominations are closed. Come back February 3 to meet the candidates!

Lauren C Brown

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Not Affiliated With a Duty Station

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 3

Share your military spouse story:
A blind date with a soldier from Ft. Dix changed the trajectory of my life. I fell in love with a man in the military at the young age of 19 and I haven’t looked back. My husband was active-duty when we married and has since transferred into the Army Reserves where he currently serves as a First Sergeant. Even though he is a weekend warrior, he is always standing at the ready. We have two children, who like me, have been raised around the military community. Growing up as a military child, I was raised around diversity. I saw people of all walks of life working together and building communities. But I had never experienced diversity until adulthood. This experience would drive my passion toward racial reconciliation and racial healing for myself and the military community at large. Several years ago, my husband deployed while our kids were in early grade school. I felt lonely and totally unprepared for the challenges that lay ahead. The moment when I realized I was completely alone and no one was coming to help spur me to explore the dynamics of community building. My military spouse story is one of redemption and reconciliation. As we sacrifice and serve as a military family, my greatest hope is to continue to use my voice to help others heal.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Because my husband leads as a First Sergeant, his job innately is to catch the first waves of problems and turbulence in the lives of his troops. He has to be ready with solutions and resources for those who need them. When occasions arise which require troops to be vulnerable, open, or transparent, I have been able to facilitate encouraging conversations and implement practical solutions. There are layers to the military experience. Rank systems, relationship dynamics, and hindrances in communicating make healthy conversation opportunities challenging. As a leader in the Be the Bridge organization, where I serve as the Executive Administrator and Senior Podcast Producer, I have vast experience in relationship building, effective communication, and entering into adverse spaces.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
One of the terms most used in this space to describe a spouse with an immense amount of experience is the word “seasoned.” I don’t particularly love this term, but it does represent an accurate portrayal of a person who has dealt with a sufficient amount of challenges presented by the active-duty lifestyle. I guess you could call me a “seasoned” spouse. Being married to a military man for half my life, I have seen so many opportunities to raise others up, help them tell their stories, and encourage them toward brave conversations. My involvement in the military community has been directly connected to my positions at Be the Bridge with Latasha Morrison, but also to the lifelong commitment I have to social justice and racial equity.

Describe how you support your community:
One of the main ways I can support the military community is through my efforts with the Be the Bridge Podcast. As the Senior Podcast Producer, I make great effort to produce and highlight resources that will help everyday people find answers around racial reconciliation and racial equality. I realize it is a journey toward self-awareness and an in-depth understanding of the issues which mar the face of our society. It takes time- and intentional marrying of intent and action. Latasha Morrison says “This process is a marathon and not a sprint.” Finding the right resources, along with voices of encouragement along the way, is the key to making progress in this arena. Through Be the Bridge, I can create the space for brave conversations, open up opportunities for racial healing, and invite others to do the same.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I am a passionate advocate for racial reconciliation and racial equality. I firmly believe that we, as a people, cannot heal from what we cannot identify. I want to see my children experience the progress of what we have done today in racial reconciliation spaces. It is imperative that we understand the work of racial reconciliation and social as one of the most pertinent and pressing issues of our time. We must strive to get to a place where we see people in an embodied way- as a whole person with a story, a culture, and a desire to be seen.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Much of the work I have done and support has been featured on the Be the Bridge official platforms and social media sites. The organization reaches over 315,000 people. On Instagram, the official Be the Bridge page reaches nearly 142,000 followers. Our Facebook page started with 70 people in 2015 and has grown to 74,000. There are currently 2,000 Be the Bridge groups- a gathering of peers who enter into the process of becoming aware of racial issues, sifting through them together, and sharing their stories in authentic ways- in the United States and across 15 countries.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
To be awarded the Military Spouse of the Year Award would open opportunities to take the legitimized work we have been doing in the civilian space to my fellow military community members. There is such a need in our space for a conversation around racial equity, mutual healing, and authentic community. Bringing tools, resources, and encouragement to the military community has ripple effects. We are creating a pathway to leave a legacy for those coming behind us- a legacy of inclusion, multi-cultural awareness, and a deep and abiding acceptance.

Nominations

Lauren Brown is an awe-inspiring member of our community, serving as the Executive Administrator and Senior Podcast Producer of the Be the Bridge organization. Be the Bridge with Latasha Morrison is a 501c3 non-profit that empowers people and culture toward racial healing, equity, and reconciliation. Lauren is dedicated to elevating the voices of those who are champions for racial reconciliation and social justice.
- by Megan Brown