About Lisa

As chancellor of Washington State University Spokane, Lisa Brown led the development of WSU’s rapidly growing, world-class center for health sciences education and research. Her efforts contributed to the successful accreditation and creation of a second public medical school in the state of Washington, expanding health care where it's needed most across Eastern Washington.

Lisa visiting with friends

Under Lisa’s leadership, WSU Spokane doubled vital research into addictions, cancer and neurological diseases, and helped create a teaching health clinic which trains medical residents who serve patients from Colville to Pullman.

Prior to joining WSU in January 2013, Lisa served the Washington Legislature for more than 20 years, representing the Third Legislative District.

After serving two terms in the state House of Representatives (1992-1996), she was elected to the Senate in 1996 and was appointed chair of the Ways and Means Committee in her first term. She was elected as minority leader in 2002 and, in 2005, became the first Democratic woman in the state to hold the position of Senate Majority Leader.

As Senate Majority Leader, Brown spearheaded a variety of health-related initiatives. She led the creation of the state's Mental Health Parity Act of 2005, which improved the insurance coverage of mental health services for Washington residents. Among her successes was the expansion of children's health care and passage of the legislation to create the nonprofit Prescription Drug Assistance Foundation.

As Senate Majority Leader, Lisa also brought people together to make sure Eastern Washington got its fair share of investments in public schools and infrastructure. She worked to strengthen and diversify our regional economy, supporting farms and wineries, and creating jobs in industries from aerospace to film.

Lisa was also the prime sponsor of critical state-wide economic tools such as the Rainy Day fund constitutional amendment, the Strategic Economic Development Fund, and the Local Increment Financing Tool.

During Lisa’s tenure as Senate Majority Leader, legislative logjams lasting for decades were broken, resulting in the passage of several pieces of landmark legislation, including the simple majority for schools constitutional amendment and marriage equality.

She secured funding for important community assets, such as farmer’s markets, trails, and the Fox Theater, improving our quality of life.

Lisa was born in Robinson, Illinois and is a first-generation college graduate. With federal financial aid, Lisa earned a Bachelor's Degree in Economics at the University of Illinois, in Champaign-Urbana. She earned her PhD in Economics at the University of Colorado, in Boulder.

In 1980 Lisa moved to Spokane and became an Associate Professor of Economics at Eastern Washington University. Lisa became immediately engaged in community organizations advocating for working families, petitioning for dental benefits for low-income people, and organizing the first “Take Back The Night” Rally in Spokane to bring awareness to victims of domestic violence.

She was an associate professor of economics at Eastern Washington University from 1981 to 2001 and served as an associate professor in Gonzaga University's master of organizational leadership program from 2001 to 2012. While teaching hundreds of students, Lisa served as a citizen legislator.

Lisa enjoying a book

Honors and Awards received by Lisa

  • King Cole Luminary, Leadership Spokane (2016)
  • Best of the West, West Plains Chamber of Commerce (2016)
  • Women in Business Leadership, Catalyst Magazine (2016)
  • Moving the Needle on Growing Graduate Medical Education, Empire Health Foundation (2015)
  • Justice Hero 2013, Center for Justice (2013)
  • Woman of the Year, Washington State University (2013)
  • Advocate of the Year in Public Policy, Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital (2013)
  • Special Recognition Award, Spokane Guilds’ School and Neuromuscular Center (2012)
  • Inaugural Award for Ethical Leadership, Faith Action Network (2012)
  • State of Washington Equality Award, LGBTQA Centers At UW, WSU, and EWU (2012)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Early Learning Action Alliance (2012)
  • Making Spokane Better Award, Salvation Army of Spokane (2012)
  • Legislator of the Year, Washington Student Association (2011)
  • Champion for Children, Children’s Alliance (2010)
  • Maternal & Child Health Award, March of Dimes (2008)
  • Louise Miller Arts Advocacy Award, Washington State Arts Alliance (2008)
  • Bob Olsen Memorial Conservation Eagle Award, Northwest Energy Coalition (2007)
  • Cynthia Gillespie Award, Northwest Women’s Law Center (2006)
  • Champion of Youth, Chase Youth Commission (2006)
  • Legislator of the Year, Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs (2005)
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Spokane, WA 99210
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