Manatee County United Way hires new chief from New Jersey

BRADENTON -- It was last month when Philip and Susan Brown visited here for the first time in their lives.

"I said to my wife when we drove around that it felt like home," Brown said from Bridgewater, N.J. "It had such a feel we decided whether I was selected, we were going to end up in Manatee County at some point."

It turned out to be sooner than later.

Brown, 61, was announced Wednesday as the new president of United Way Manatee County.

He has been with United Way 12 years and is presently the chief professional officer and senior vice president of organizational development at United Way of Northern New Jersey.

Brown, who was also chief operating officer for hospitals in Allentown, Pa., and Plainfield, N.J., succeeds Jerry Koontz, who retired last fall after 18 years as head of UWMC.

His official start is June 18, but he will be coming sooner to get situated.

"I'm trying to come down this month to meet with staff, corporate partners and donors and get a jump on the work building relationships in order to get things done," Brown said.

"I'm very excited by the opportunity to lead a United Way, which I'm passionate about, and be part of a community right now that we plan to be our home for the rest of our lives."

Tim Henning, a member of the selection committee, liked the sound of that.

"Him coming in and hitting the ground running is critical because the need here has never been greater," said the Publix district manager.

Brown is a native of Beirut, Lebanon, where his American father worked for Pan Am, and came to America at 18 to attend Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H. He also got a masters at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

His wife is executive vice-president and COO of the Cancer Support Community headquartered in Washington, D.C,

They have two sons, Matthew and Andrew.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Follow him on Twitter: @vinmannix.