Leanna Brown (born 1935) is an American Republican Party politician who served in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature, where she represented the 26th Legislative District. She was the first Republican woman elected to the New Jersey Senate.
Born Leanna Cawley Young, she is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harold H. Young. Her father was a partner at the New York brokerage firm of Eastman Dillon. She attended the Northfield School for Girls (now part of Northfield Mount Hermon School) in Gill, Massachusetts, graduating in 1952. After graduating from Smith College in 1956, she married William Stanley Brown, who had attended the Mount Hermon School and Yale University and would go on to be a scientist at Bell Labs.
Brown and her husband are longtime residents of Chatham Borough, New Jersey. She spent four years writing test questions for Educational Testing Service outside Princeton, New Jersey before the birth of her two sons. She became active in local politics, serving on the Chatham Borough Council from 1969 to 1972. In 1972 she was elected to serve on the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders. She was named freeholder director in 1976 and president of the New Jersey Association of Counties in 1978.
In 1980 she won a special election to an unexpired term in the New Jersey General Assembly, and she was re-elected the following year. In 1983, she challenged her former running-mate, James P. Vreeland, for the Republican nomination for State Senate in the 26th Legislative District. She won the primary in what the Philadelphia Daily News described as a "stunning upset" and was elected to the State Senate, becoming the first woman from the Republican Party to serve in the upper house of the State Legislature.
In 1989 she formed an exploratory committee to consider becoming a candidate for Governor of New Jersey. She ultimately decided against running in the Republican primary, which was won by Jim Courter.
In 1993, Brown resigned from the State Senate when she was appointed to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, initially to serve out the unexpired term of Charles J. Irwin. Assemblymember Robert Martin was chosen to fill Brown's vacancy in the Senate. The following year she was named by Governor Christine Todd Whitman to a full five-year term on the Commission, serving until 1999.
Brown and her husband founded Brown Global Enterprises, a small import-export business focusing on trade in African art. In 2001 she volunteered to work on the transition team for President George W. Bush. In May 2007 she was appointed by Bush to serve on the President's Commission on White House Fellowships.
- "Student to Wed Leanna C. Young", The New York Times, April 3, 1955.
- "Miss Leanna Young Wed", The New York Times, June 17, 1956.
- "In the Running", The Record (Bergen County), January 8, 1989.
- "Chatham Lawmaker Eyes Run for Governor", The Record (Bergen County), January 17, 1989.
- Staff. "N.J. VOTERS GO TO THE POLLS", Philadelphia Daily News, June 8, 1983. Accessed August 5, 2010. "James Vreeland, R-Morris, who was defeated by Assemblywoman Leanna Brown in a stunning upset."
- "A Long Shot Quits Governor's Race", The Record (Bergen County), January 26, 1989.
- Cichowski, John. "SENATE DESIGNEE ATTACKS DORSEY", The Record (Bergen County), August 5, 1993. Accessed June 11, 2010.
- "Two Chosen For Panel On Casinos", The New York Times, August 11, 1994.
- "A Jersey political pro returns... at the entry level," The Star-Ledger, January 12, 2001.
- The President's Commission on White House Fellowships, Whitehouse.gov. Accessed August 14, 2008.