Why She’s Interesting: Brownson has busted through as many NFL glass ceilings as she has ball carriers. After becoming the first woman hired as a full-time NCAA Division I coach at Dartmouth College, the former football player was hired by Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski last February as chief of staff. Then in November, she became the first woman to serve as an interim position coach, leading the tight end group in a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Finding Football: When Mount Vernon High School’s football team wouldn’t allow girls to play, Brownson focused on softball until she found the D.C. Divas. From 2009-2017, she played running back and safety for the Women’s Football Alliance team and later returned to her alma mater as an assistant coach for three seasons. “I learned from some of the best coaches women’s football had to offer.”
Win State: The five-time captain and four-time All-American won two national championships with the Divas and two gold medals as a member of Team USA Women’s Football. “There’s a lot of turnover, so I had to learn a lot of different schemes and a lot of different views of football, and that helped me gain my football IQ.”
Women Run: Brownson says diversifying genders in football leadership roles isn’t just about equality but it’s also good business. “When you’re trying to fill a position, no matter what the position is, is it worth neglecting 50% of the population? You’re eliminating half of the candidate pool.”
New Normal: COVID-19 was the Browns biggest opponent this season. Luckily, the 30-something trio of Stefanski, Brownson and general manager Andrew Berry were uniquely positioned to handle virtual training camps and a year that bucked traditional thinking. “You have to be innovative, progressive and resilient and think about how old-fashioned ways of thinking are actually inhibiting us.”
Daily Inspiration: Brownson is a sucker for self-improvement, picking up a new mantra each week to challenge herself as a leader. “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there, and I try to take myself out of my comfort zone.”
When Brownson needs a pick-me-up, she turns to her favorite show, Schitt’s Creek.