Melissa S. Brown
First the facts
At age 12, I wrote an essay that argued against year-round school, which was being proposed in my home state. I won $25 (more than $150 now) and a letter of commendation from then-governor Ronald Reagan.
Thus began a non-fiction writing career. I cannot make things up; when assigned a short story in high school, I asked for and received permission to write a biographical essay. To do that, I learned even more about a remarkable relative who traveled in Mexico and Central America, taught college math, and sold real estate, all of which he did after being blinded in an accident.
Add 20+ years of fundraising experience
The Folger Shakespeare Library hired me, despite my master's degree, to convert a donor file into a donor database. Since then, I've written grant proposals; run annual campaigns; asked for major gifts; and learned from friends and colleagues. Paid and volunteer work includes Indiana University, the Homeless Initiative Program, the International School of Indiana, the Arthritis Foundation, Big Sisters of Central Indiana, United Way, and most recently, Child Advocates.
Then the graphs
In the past few decades, I have added analysis and presentation of data to my toolkit. This developed when a co-worker asked about my lunchtime reading, Peter Bernstein's Against the Gods. He determined that if I read a history of the theory of probability for fun, just maybe I'd like to learn some statistics and start working on Giving USA. I wrote and edited that publication of the Giving USA Foundation for 10 years, as Associate Director of Research at what is now the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Finally, the Firm
In 2011, I opened this company. The opportunity to control my schedule, work with great folks around the country on a wide variety of projects, and spend more time with my then teen-aged daughters all appealed to me. The first two are still true. These days, I get to spend more time with the girls' dad. After 30+ years together, we still make a good team.