Abena Joan Brown
Albena Brown was born and raised on Chicago's South Side. She was a graduate of the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration in an era when few African-Americans attended the school. Brown was one of the early pioneers of African-American theater in Chicago and the president and chief executive officer of the ETA Creative Arts Foundation for 40 years. Brown often recounted her slogan for ETA: "affirming the tradition, transcending the condition." Under her leadership as CEO ETA provided full time jobs for those in the arts, nurtured innumerable young playwrights, visual artist, actors, production crews and always insisted that the work represent authentic Black stories as told by Black people. To her credit she produced one hundred-fifty professional theater productions. Her many honors include: Award of Merit from the Black Theater Alliance, The Paul Robeson Award from the Chicago African American Arts Alliance, the Governor’s Award in the Arts and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Joseph Jefferson Committee.