Manson K. Brown, a Washington, D.C. native, is the son of public servants. At the age of 17, he entered military service as a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. His journey with the Coast Guard spanned 40 years. He became the first African-American to achieve 3-star rank in his service. He commanded operations at every level, culminating as Commander of Pacific Area in San Francisco where he oversaw all Coast Guard operational activities throughout the Pacific Rim. In 2004, he was asked to fill a key leadership gap in Iraq as the Senior Advisor for Transportation for the Coalition Provisional Authority. There he oversaw restoration of Iraq’s transportation systems, including major ports.
After retiring from the Coast Guard in 2014, he was nominated by President Barack Obama as an Assistant Secretary of Commerce at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2015, he oversaw environmental satellite programs and the business transformation of the National Weather Service. He also championed an effort to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the organization. He returned to retirement in January 2017.