SAN ANTONIO -- Though eligible for retirement two years ago, challenges related to working during a pandemic helped make the retirement decision easier for one man.
Hopeton Brown will be retiring after more than 25 years working with the U.S. Army Environmental Command.
Throughout his career, Brown has been involved in multiple charitable organizations. He is the president of Give Back Jamaica and Nakisaki Humanitarian Consortium, the chairman of the Dixon Foundation, and a board member of Peace and Love Academic Scholarship. Additionally, Brown helps out with Read Across Jamaica, where he has collected 20,000 books for the children of Jamaica.
People often ask him how he finds the time to volunteer for so many charitable organizations. “It’s not really about finding the time, it’s [about] making the time because I think it’s important.”
Even though Brown is retiring, he is not done giving back to the community. Retirement may provide him more free time, but Brown plans to keep volunteering at the levels he has.
“I would say I’m doing it full time now,” he explained. After retirement Brown is planning to travel more, planning trips to both Hawaii and the Bahamas in January 2022.
Brown arrived in the United States from Jamaica when he was 15 years old and has worked his way up the ladder since. After graduating from Drexel University as a chemical engineer in 1984 he struggled to find a job.
He began teaching in the Philadelphia school district before meeting a gentleman in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1988 who offered him a job. After going through the various stringent measures to enable him to work for the government he began his long career with the Department of Defense. After eight years working at the shipyard, he ended up at USAEC in 1996.
Brown held several positions within USAEC. He started out as an environmental engineer where he was responsible for the coordination, execution and oversight of various environmental restoration activities. About five years later, he began working as the chief of the Program Management Branch for the Cleanup Division.
He became responsible for the annual report to Congress, making sure to account for every dollar spent on Army cleanup. With a command reorganization that position transitioned to chief of Program and Liabilities Branch of the Environmental Solutions Division around 2010. And last year a reorganization changed his reporting division to Operations, Plans and Programming, but the work and the challenges remained the same.
To thrive at this challenging position, Brown says you have to be a people person and you really need good interpersonal skills because you’re working with a large number of people that all have different skillsets.
“Very rarely is there an average week with this position,” Brown said. “It’s not routine so it’s a new challenge every time, and it keeps you going.” That’s what he likes about his current job.
Brown equates his success in these positions to the leadership and interpersonal skills he acquired and the inspiration from previous bosses, as well as the people on his team that helped him get there.
“Two bosses stand out, Jim Parmiter, my first boss at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, and Rick Weiner at the U.S. Army Environmental Command,” Brown said. “The key thing that sticks out with both of them that has manifested in my [own] management style, is that surrounding yourself with strong personnel will ensure your success. Your employees will determine your success or failure.”
Hopeton leans into the importance of empowering your team members to make decisions with the promise of providing the support they need.
“Your success is going to be based on how good your team is and whether or not your team is willing to stand next to you as you face all different types of challenges,” Brown said. “People are very important and, I don’t think I would have gotten to where I am had it not been for the folks that worked for me.”
Hopeton was responsible for the management and supervision of eight Army civilians as well as 40 outside contractors.
Some people go through life struggling to find their calling. Not Hopeton Brown. He lives by the saying that “unless you can impact the change in something, then you’re wasting your time trying to worry about something that you can’t change.”