Cleo Brown

Sarah Pacheco
Wednesday - July 23, 2008
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Who knew kids would so happy to get back-to-school supplies, especially right in the middle of summer?

During a luncheon at Child and Family Service’s Ewa Beach main office last week, 20 lucky students were gifted with brand-new backpacks stuffed to the zippers with pens, pencils, notebooks, folders, even a bright-orange frisbee and stress ball.

“I am so thankful that these people actually offered to take the time to pack all these bags with school supplies,” said 12-year-old Rocksand Hong-Grammer. (Eighty additional backpacks will be distributed to other children at various program sites around the state.)

Ensuring these at-risk youth continue to be excited about education is Cleo Brown (pictured here with Andrae and Angello Amian). “This is wonderful to see these young people and to know that, in some little way, we’ve touched their lives positively. We’ve brightened their day,” she says. “What better way for business to contribute to society? It’s not always about building the bottom line.”

Being more concerned about her clients is one trait that led ING DIRECT CEO and president Arkadi Kuhlmann to personally name Brown head of Hawaii operations for the bank. And while she is busy promoting the launch of ING DIRECT’s Internet cafe and sales center (located at the old Local Motion store on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki), Brown is most excited to be supporting local efforts that support financial literacy programs for children and families in Hawaii. She is currently speaking with the DOE about getting such programs into schools, and next month she and other ING DIRECT members will be conducting workshops at the Hawaii Women’s Business Center. Other community involvements set for the coming months include inviting Wally Amos and the Read Aloud program into the ING DIRECT cafe; working with drug prevention programs, family service projects and nonprofit organizations; partnering with Hawaii Bicycle Association to create educational programs on bike safety; and showcasing a 40-foot mobile cafe that will travel to schools and nonprofits around the state.

Brown is married to local boy Carl Brown, a special investigator with the state attorney general’s office, and together they have three daughters, one son and six grandchildren. Although retired from Thomas Cook Group in 2000, Brown has remained deeply invested in groups such as Hawaii Women’s Business Center, Alu Like, Inc., Hale Ku’ai Cooperative, Business Consulting Resources and the Kamehameha Schools.

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