Newport Historical Society and Emmanuel Church have announced that they will host Grappling with Legacy: A Lecture with Sylvia Brown on Rhode Island’s Brown Family and the American Philanthropic Impulse at Emmanuel Church on April 5th. Below is the press release issued on behalf of the organizations;

When Sylvia Brown’s father handed much of his inheritance to Brown University in 1995, the gesture maintained a 300-year family philanthropic tradition.  Less than a decade later, at the inaugural symposium of the University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, one speaker declared “there were no good Browns.” “Grappling with Legacy” was born of the juxtaposition between these starkly opposed perspectives.

On Thursday, April 5, 2018, 5:30 pm the Newport Historical Society and Emmanuel Church will co-host author Sylvia Brown for a discussion on how she has delved into one of the country’s largest family archives to understand what fuels a multi-generational compulsion to giving: self-interest? A feeling of guilt? A sense of genuine altruism? The Brown family mirrors America’s evolving urge to do good — from colonial era charity, to reformist initiatives in the Early Republic, to the philanthropy of the Gilded Age, to social impact investing today.  Sylvia will focus especially on the Brown family’s 20th-century contributions to Newport.

Eldest of the 11th generation of Browns in Rhode Island, Sylvia Brown was attracted to development economics from an early age. Following her BS and MA degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, she pursued a professional career in various aspects of international development, from Wall Street to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Ten years ago, a course in strategic philanthropy redirected her focus to the non-profit sector and eventually prompted a return to her Rhode Island roots. Sylvia is passionate about donor education and giving with impact. She recently launched Uplifting Journeys, boot camps for smarter donors, that take place in locations around the world.

“Grappling with Legacy” takes place at Emmanuel Church, 42 Dearborn Street, Newport, RI. Admission is free; donations are welcome. Book signing to follow. Please RSVP online at or call 401-841-8770.