SoHE’s 2019 Early Career Alumni Award winner credits her SoHE Master’s degree with helping her serve clients better.
This article is part of a short series profiling the four winners of the School of Human Ecology’s 2019 Alumni Awards. View all the winners in this earlier article, and see their individual profiles week by week in our news & events newsletter. Then, be sure to join us in honoring them—and connecting with SoHE friends old and new—at this year’s Back to School event September 27, 2019.
SoHE’s Early Career Alumni Award recognizes outstanding graduates who have received a degree or certificate from a program within the School of Human Ecology and is younger than age 40. Selection is based on demonstrated achievement and leadership within a chosen field.
Rebecca Brown, SoHE ’06, knew she wanted to be an interior designer since her senior year of high school in Wallace, Michigan. She excelled in her art classes, her architectural drawing classes, and even on the then-early iterations of AutoCAD software. Encouraged by two women already working in the profession, Brown committed herself early to the field, choosing to attend Mount Mary University in Milwaukee in order to take advantage of its accredited program in Interior Design. After graduation and a year of service with AmeriCorps, she enrolled in the Design Studies Master of Science program at UW–Madison.
“The process of working toward and achieving my master’s degree at UW–Madison, being part of a Big Ten, research-driven community, really taught me how to go deeper and solve problems in a more engrossed and holistic way,” Brown said of her time at SoHE.
Today, she is Director of Business Development with Creative Business Interiors, Inc., a commercial interior design, interior constructions, and business furnishings firm with offices in Madison and Milwaukee, where she had started working even before she finished her master’s degree. Despite a demanding course load, Brown was eager to put her skills and passion to work, and so joined the company part-time as an Account Manager and Interior Designer. After graduation, she was promoted to Account Executive, and later, to her current position, where she leads a team in cultivating new business and client relationships in the design industry. She says the ever changing demands of her industry, as well as the opportunities she has found to apply her knowledge in new ways to answer clients’ needs, keeps her engaged and enthusiastic about her work every day.
Brown’s dedication to her field is evident in her activities off the clock as well. She is a past president and board member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Wisconsin Chapter, where she served on the Susan Wohlitz Memorial Fund Advisory Board and the IIDA Wisconsin Advocacy Committee, which is currently working to legalize stamping privileges for the state’s interior designers. She gladly mentors Interior Design students and recent graduates of SoHE, and she actively participates in Student Career Day for the American Society of Interior Designers/International Interior Design Association (ASID/IIDA), as well as at the UW–Madison Design Studies Portfolio Showcase. She serves on the Madison College Interior Design Advisory Board and has been invited as a guest lecturer at several colleges across Wisconsin, including UW–Stevens Point. And she donates her time and talent to various other organizations in her community, including Ronald McDonald House, Agrace Hospice & Palliative Care, and Box of Balloons. She and her husband are also licensed foster parents and so have dedicated more time to family recently.
Brown is highly regarded among her peers and clients, and throughout the industry. In 2017, In Business Magazine named her one of Madison’s “40 under 40.” A passionate professional and leader, a mother, and SoHE’s 2019 Early Career Alumni Award winner, Rebecca Brown will doubtless continue to make the school proud in her future endeavors.