Carole Ann Brown passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her family on July 12, 2023.

Headshot of Brown
Carole Brown. Courtesy of her family

Carole was born in Harlem, New York, on March 3, 1940, to Dorothy Pasour and Cornelius Brown. After graduating from George Washington High School, it wasn’t long before Carole fulfilled a lifelong dream and moved out west to Los Angeles. There she discovered her love of social work after a brief foray into entertainment. The welfare of others and helping people are what fed her soul. Carole returned to New York to become involved in the “Freedom Summer of 1963.” During that time, she worked at the Harlem Youth Opportunities Agency (HARYOU) and became deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement. She was a Freedom Rider, traveling to Baltimore, Maryland, on July 4, 1963, to sit in and protest the segregation of Gwynn Oak Amusement Park. In August of that year, Carole participated in the March on Washington. Carole was also a published writer and one of the featured authors in her cousin Toni Cade Bambara’s groundbreaking anthology “The Black Woman.”

Two young women jumping with a leg up
Carole Brown and her cousin Toni Cade Bambara in the 1950s. Courtesy of Brown’s family

Carole returned to California, and in 1966 gave birth to her only child, her daughter Dayna. It wasn’t long before she resumed her studies at night school while simultaneously working at various human and social services agencies such as EYOA and The Brotherhood Crusade. Soon Carole transferred to UCLA and graduated with a BA in Sociology. Carole and Dayna then moved to Berkeley where she pursued her Master’s Degree in Social Work. “We’re only going to be there for two years,” she told Dayna before they moved. She graduated from the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley with her MSW in 1977.

Sitting, wearing a hat, with her daughter standing
Carole Brown and her daughter, Dayna. Courtesy of her family

Carole loved the Bay Area and of course Berkeley. Of all the places she lived, Berkeley felt like home and she quickly discarded any plans to return to Southern California upon her graduation from Cal. Instead, she made a life in the city she loved while forging her legacy as a social worker in the community focusing on labor and her unrelenting commitment to service to others.

After working at the nonprofit organization, Advocates for Women, Carole subsequently founded her own nonprofit agency; Women’s Employment Resources Corporation (WERC) in 1984. There she counseled and helped thousands of clients with job placement, skills training, guidance, compassion, mentorship, and numerous resources for personal growth, financial aid, and professional development. She dedicated her life and soul to WERC ensuring that the women (and men) of Berkeley had a place where they could go and positively reinforce their goals to achieve, bringing out the best in themselves. Carole had a special expertise and vision for placing clients in the perfect positions that highlighted their skills and potential.

In 1989, Carole was recognized by the State Commission on the Status of Women and selected by Berkeley as one of the city’s 11 Outstanding Women. WERC also helped start the Displaced Homemakers Emergency Loan Act Program (DHELA) in conjunction with the State Commission on the Status of Women and assistance from Bank of America. The program helped women with monetary assistance during challenging times. WERC established the first Clerical Training Program at VISTA College in Berkeley, placed the first African American woman in California in the Stationary Engineers Apprenticeship Program, and placed a former welfare recipient into the Plumbers Union.

In black sleeveless dress in a crowd
Carole Brown during the March on Washington. Courtesy of her family

In 2000, Carole was inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame in their Business and Professions Category for her work in the community by improving the economic status of women through the Women’s Employment Resources Corporation. Concurrently, Carole served as a consultant, founding board member, board member, and commissioner, to several other organizations: Black Women Organized for Educational Development, Women’s Economic Agenda Project, Bay Area Women Against Rape, The Allocations Committee of the Women’s Foundation, Women in the Workforce 2000, State Bar Trust Fund Allocations Committee, and Urban Releaf among others. Carole also consulted and helped to roll out the Morongo Tribal TANF Program (MTTP) for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Southern California.

Carole’s volunteer service included the Tri-Valley Haven for Battered Women, Mandara House Community Recovery Center, Mandela House Women’s Center, Chrysalis House, and Orchid Women’s Recovery Center.

Carole was a never-ending source of encouragement to others — selfless and inspiring while always finding a way to help and uplift. Carole served as Executive Director of WERC until 2006. Post WERC, she continued to research, write grants, mentor youth, and provide much-needed services and information to single-parent households. With her unwavering faith and hope, she was a guiding light.

Carole is survived by her devoted daughter Dayna (Winston) Coronado and son-in-law Chris Coronado, adoring grandsons Christian and Ryan, loving sister-in-law Louise Brown and nephews Gregory, Christopher, and Isaias, sister Lauryne Braithwaite and many lifelong and loving friends and family from near and far. Her beloved brother, Ronald Brown passed away in June 2022.

Multigenerational group of five outsdide
Brown and her family. Courtesy of her family