Posted on: September 20, 2016 | Posted in: Community Blog
Keynote Annual Conference Speaker:
CEO/Founder, The Rosie Network
As CEO of The Rosie Network (TRN), Stephanie Brown has been featured in WOMEN’S DAY magazine, U.S. VETERANS MAGAZINE and MILITARY SPOUSE MAGAZINE.
A 2016 ‘Our City,’ San Diego Innovator of the Year awardee, Stephanie was recognized by the San Diego Business Journal as a Women Who Mean Business Award finalist in 2015 and Military Spouse CEO of the Year in 2013.
Stephanie is a nationally recognized subject matter expert on Military Spouses and Entrepreneurship. She sits on the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s, ‘Spouse Ambassador Network’ and the national SBA’s Office of Veteran Business Development (OVBD) Military Spouse Entrepreneur Alliance.
Rosie’s List, named after the WWII iconic Rosie the Riveter, hosts the nation’s largest non-profit searchable database of VERIFIED veteran and military spouse-owned small businesses. “By making it easy for the American consumer to locate and patronize these businesses, we hope to change the national mindset to shop and buy military family-owned first,” says Stephanie.
The Rosie Network works to support business to business (B2B) opportunities for military family-owned companies as well. They are a partner of the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business (CVOB), founded in 2014 by USAA, Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), First Data, Disney, American Express, Verizon, Walmart and other Fortune 100 companies committed to doing business with veterans and military spouses.
Stephanie grew up a military brat. Her father served over twenty years in the Air Force and did two tours in Vietnam. When he retired, despite being 100% service-disabled, he followed his passion for music and opened a music store in California. Stephanie says she caught the entrepreneurial bug working weekends at the store and watching her father interact and inspire his customers.
“My father made friends with every customer who walked in the front door, especially other veterans. I learned the value of honor and service to country from my Dad,” says Stephanie. She learned later that a lot of enlisted families like hers growing up, struggle financially. “Unbeknownst to me as a kid, our military family of six fell below the poverty level and literally lived month-to-month.” She thought her mother made their clothes because she enjoyed sewing. “Our family vacations evolved around camping and fishing. I had no idea our family was ‘poor’ because my father worked a second job to make sure we didn’t go hungry.”
Stephanie believes that today’s military families are a lot like hers was fifty years ago. Her mother gave up a nursing career to follow her father and raise the kids. Stephanie left her career in Washington, D.C. when she married her husband, a young Naval officer.
“Over half of today’s military spouses ‘want or need to work’ to help support their families. Entrepreneurship offers a portable career opportunity, but it also allows you to build something meaningful while contributing to the financial well-being of your family,” says Stephanie. “Our job at The Rosie Network is to strengthen military families, one entrepreneur at a time.”
Stephanie lives with her husband, retired Rear Admiral Tom Brown (Navy SEAL) and their two boys in San Diego.