Black History Month: Leah Brown

Leah Brown

(c. 1963 – Currently Living)

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[su_note note_color=”#40cd11″ radius=”5″]Noteworthy Accomplishments & Historical Facts [su_list icon_color=”#191f17″]
  • Founder/Owner/ President of A10 Clinical Solutions, Inc.
  • Co-Founder/Vice President of Diversity Alliance for Science, Inc. (non-profit)
  • Fortune Magazine’s Top 10 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs 2010
  • Inc. Magazine’s 2010 No. 1 African-American-Run Business and Top Women Entrepreneur
  • Writer and Speaker
  • A10 was named the 2010 No. 92 Fastest-Growing Privately Owned Companies in America and No. 5 in the Health Industry
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Anger…the Fuel that Started the Fire of Motivation

Born in Maplewood, New Jeresey, Leah got her passion and love for learning from her parents, who were both teachers. In 1987, she lost an uncle to HIV/AIDS. She was upset with the loss of her uncle because she wondered why there weren’t more treatments available to help him. This anger stayed with her throughout her life.

Leah went on to further her education and earned her degree in Information Technology from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky, and was admitted to the North Carolina State Bar in 1992. She then worked as a lawyer for many years.

Fast forward to 2004, Leah experienced what she has referred to as the “worst stage” of her life. She was separating from her husband of 18 years, and was let go from her job of 15 years all in the same week! After losing her job and husband, she knew one thing for sure, she DID NOT want to work for anyone else again.

“I would never put myself in a situation where I put in all my soul and all my heart just to get dropped, dismissed.”

All of the emotions mixed with the anger she still felt from the death of her uncle fueled her passion to create something on her own. She knew she had to do something critical and innovative to help heal the world. So she took her savings and her severance and spent a year incubating her business. Whenever possible, she turned to free resources for entrepreneurs.

Creating a Business with Its Own Niche

In 2004, she created A10 Clinical Solutions, Inc., with a goal of improving health care for minorities and women. She created a unique niche for A10; it runs clinical trials on therapeutic drugs for large pharmaceutical companies to ensure that the drugs are ready to be administered to the general public. She chose clinical trials and other contract work for pharmaceutical companies partly because of her experience in healthcare, and her ability as a lawyer to navigate the regulatory environment.

“What differentiated A10, then and now, is that the clinical trials we do are related to diseases that have the highest impact on economically depressed and minority communities – diabetes, cardiovascular disease [cancer, and], infectious diseases like HIV. Those are the studies for which we have a special passion – studies on diseases that affect my life in the lives of my staff.”

She had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get to where she (her business) is today. Most notably, the cost of  entry into this market was so high. She ran out of her savings and no banks would loan her any money. She tried to mortgage her home to keep the business afloat, but when the banks said no, she thought of one last person she could ask – her mother. Her mother was a retired first grade teacher whom was conservative with her money. When Leah asked to borrow the money, her mom hesitated, and didn’t get back to her for a couple of days. When she did finally get back to Leah, she agreed to let her borrow the money; only she had to pay it back within 60 days at 8% interest. 

The second major challenge she dealt with was establishing a good business reputation. She did just that through persistence and determination. 

“There I was, a minority woman, in clinical research,” she says. “It’s not like you see them every day. I had to establish credibility with the big pharmaceutical companies. It was just persistence — relentless knocking on doors.”

Looking Ahead to the Future

A10 is all about diversifying its portfolio of services. Leah has opened up a new division that manages and operates corporate employee health clinics. This year, Leah has turned her focus on healthcare technology and started a company, Connect 10, that has developed a platform where hospital patients can communicate real-time with their doctors, nurses, and other care givers via bedside device – or even the patient’s smart phone. 

Ideas like these are taking Leah Brown further into the future! 

“They’ve never seen an African-American woman grow such a complex clinical research business on her own. It reaffirms we’re on the right road.”

 

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Sources:

A10 Clinical Solutions, Inc.

Minority Business Entrepreneur

News Observer