Lauren Brown, a longtime resident and entrepreneur, is the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year.
Brown is the former president of Promega Biosciences Inc. — the firm he helped found in San Luis Obispo as JBL Scientific.
“Lauren is really a special kind of community leader,” said Ermina Karim, chamber president. “The span of his body of work really reflects how expansive his view of community is. Some people have very clear lines of passion … In Lauren’s commitments, you see something much broader.”
Brown was long seen as a driving force in the Central Coast’s scientific community and promoted an environmental responsibility through his company which later became a standard of the industry.
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Brown has lent a hand to numerous fundraising and community efforts including the San Luis Obispo County YMCA.
He was a pivotal figure in raising money to rebuild the San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church after an arson fire destroyed it in 2001.
In 2010, at age 67, Brown rode a bike across the country to raise funds for schools in India — where he had served in the Peace Corps decades earlier from 1964 to1967 as a chemistry teacher at a rural school.
Locally, in 2011 he served as a co-chair of the San Luis Obispo Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility group that successfully lobbied for the passage of two San Luis Obispo measures that repealed binding arbitration for the city’s public safety employees and paved the way for pension reform. His prior political involvement was with a 1990s initiative, Measure O, which raised funds to purchase open space.
“San Luis Obispo is a better place because Lauren has lived here for the past 40 years,” said Warren Sinsheimer, a longtime friend.