William Yancey Brown

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William Yancey Brown
William Yancey Brown.jpg
BornAugust 13, 1948
Spouse(s)Mary E. McLeod "[1]"
ChildrenJulia E. (Brown) Limage "[2]" Emma K. Brown

William Y. Brown (born August 13, 1948) is a zoologist and attorney, currently the Chief Environmental Officer of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in the Department of the Interior. He is a former nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a former science advisor to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, a former president of the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, a former president of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a former president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. He is the author of the novels "Valley of the Scorpion" and "Ruffner's Cave".


Brown was born in Artesia, California, on August 13, 1948, and graduated from high school in Brazil at the Escola Americana do Recife. He later graduated from the University of Virginia (BA 1969, Biology, with highest distinction), Johns Hopkins University (MAT, 1970), the University of Hawaii where he was a NSF Fellow (PhD, 1973, Zoology), and Harvard Law School (JD, 1977).

Professional life[edit]

From 1973-74, Brown was Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. During law school, he held summer and consulting positions with the Environmental Protection Agency (1974), Council on Environmental Quality (1975), and the Department of the Interior (1976–77).

In 1977, Brown was appointed Executive Secretary of the U.S. Endangered Species Scientific Authority, overseeing treaty commitments for wildlife trade. In 1980, he was appointed Executive Secretary of the International Convention Advisory Commission, with similar responsibilities. Brown left government in 1981 with change in administration, joining the Environmental Defense Fund where he served as Senior Scientist and Attorney and Acting Executive Director until 1985. He played a key role in developing and protecting from repeal key provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

In 1985, Brown joined Waste Management, Inc. and was Vice President for Environmental Planning and Programs and the first Chairman of the firm's Executive Environmental Committee. Brown left WMI in October 1994 and worked as a consultant, first with Hagler Bailly Consulting as a Principal and later with the World Wildlife Fund as a Senior Fellow.

William Brown served with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt as Science Advisor from April 1997 until January 2001. There, he advocated, wrote and negotiated executive orders for coral reef protection and invasive species management issued by President William Clinton and orders of Secretary Bruce Babbitt establishing marine national wildlife refuges for Navassa Island off Haiti and Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef south of Hawaii.

On leaving government with a change in administration, he served as Vice President for Oceans and Science Policy at the National Audubon Society before being recruited by the Bishop Museum, where he served as President and CEO from October 2001 to January 2007. He is credited with stabilizing the museum both financially and politically, improving attendance and successfully undertaking several expansions and renovations. He served as President and CEO of the Academy of Natural Sciences from February 2007 to January 2010. He served as President and CEO of the Woods Hole Research Center from February 2010 to January 2011. He was a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution from June 2011 until November 2013, when he was appointed the Chief Environmental Officer of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.


William Brown is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Phi Sigma, and a fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He is a former member of the oversight advisory committee for the Division on Earth and Life Studies of the National Academies. He is a former President and director of the Natural Science Collections Alliance and a former Chairman and director of the Global Heritage Fund and of the Ocean Conservancy. He is a former director of various other boards, including the Wistar Institute, Environmental Law Institute, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, U.S. Environmental Training Institute, Audubon Naturalist Society, Friends of the United Nations Environmental Programme, and the Harvard Environmental Law Society. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.

Selected non-fiction published works[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Butler, Declan "Revolution offers chance for Libyan archaeology" Nature News November 18, 2011 [4]
  • Goldenberg, Suzanne "Rio+20 summit co-ordinator seeks to put agriculture centre stage" The Guardian September 2, 2011 [5]
  • Williams, Wendy "An expert applies science to policy" Providence Journal March 15, 2010 [6]
  • Hurdle, Jon, "Philadelphia Set to Honor Darwin" New York Times June 23, 2008 [7]
  • Bauers, Sandy, "Rock on: Academy won't sell collection" Philadelphia Inquirer June 16, 2007 [8]
  • Hoover, Will, "Bishop Museum goes headhunting" honoluluadvertiser.com January 2, 2007 [9]
  • McDermott, John, "Bishop Museum will work its magic on musty Hawaiian Hall." Pacific Business News August 25, 2006 [10]
  • McDermott, John, "High-energy team has Bishop Museum on a roll." Pacific Business News August 25, 2006 [11]
  • Pala, Christopher, "A Struggle to Preserve a Hawaiian Archipelago and Its Varied Wildlife." New York Times December 19, 2006 [12]
  • Pala, Christopher, "Paradise Almost Lost: Hawaii's Bishop Grapples with NAGPRA" Museum March/April 2008 [13]
  • Shabecoff, Philip, "Irate and Afraid, Poor Nations Fight Efforts to Use Them as Toxic Dumps" New York Times July 5, 1988


  • Shabecoff, Philip, "Army Corps of Engineers Proposes to Ease Law Protecting Wetlands" New York Times March 26, 1983


  • Rensberger, Boyce, "U.S. Is Pressed to Comply With Wildlife Protection Treaty" New York Times June 20, 1978 [16]
  • "Endangered Species Scientific Authority Gets First Executive Secretary and Charter" U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service August 5, 1977 [17]
  • "What We Do - Board of Trustees" Global Heritage Fund [18]