Murphy Brown named Citizen of the Year award at Chamber's Annual Meeting
On Tuesday, Murphy Brown of Decatur was named the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce Miss Athelyne C. Banks Citizen of the Year for his contributions and volunteerism in the community.
The honor, presented each year at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, is named after the longtime Decatur educator and recognizes those whose life reflects the dedication, service and faithfulness to Decatur modeled in the example of Ms. Banks.
“Murphy is a tireless volunteer for Decatur, and his work changing lives has changed our community,” said Dr. William and Mrs. Betty Sims, 2014 recipients of the award and who nominated Brown for the 2018 honor. “His passion for developing young people and making sure all of God’s children are successful is part of Murphy’s DNA. It’s who he is. We are a better city because of his commitment to service over self.”
A native of Decatur, he is a 1978 of what was known then as Troy State University, and a 1986 graduate of the University of Alabama with a master’s degree in social work. Murphy has worked in the mental health field for more than 40 years and is employed by Health Connect America. Much of his work experience has focused on serving children, young adults, and families in north Alabama through schools, courts, hospitals, churches and other community agencies.
Brown is the founder and executive director of the Decatur-Morgan County Minority Development Association (DMDA), a non-profit organization established in 1993 to address minority leadership concerns in Decatur-Morgan County. The mission of organization is to develop and maintain relationships with the education sector, state and local government entities, corporate, industrial, civic groups, ministries, non-profits, and other agency systems collaborating to improve our community. Through DMDA’s annual Unity Scholarship Breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., attendees come together to celebrate – among other things – the distribution of scholarships to economically disadvantaged students and families. In the 25 years since the beginning of the event, more than 500 scholarship have been awarded to area students.
Among other DMDA initiatives under Brown’s leadership, the organization partnered with Decatur City Schools in 2015 to launch American Teens on the Move (ATOM). The program is geared towards minority male students in the school system with the objective of moving high risk minority students to a path of seeking careers and positive developmental goals impacting their future. Also, DMDA is active in the Starting Strong Pre-K initiative to ensure funding for additional classrooms in Morgan County. DMDA is also engaged in career and workforce development services for area youth and families, as well as health, housing and justice initiatives.
Brown is past president for the Decatur Noon Rotary Club, past chairman of the board for Community Action Partnership of North Alabama, past board member for Rebuilding Together, past board member for the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber and currently serves on the board of directors for the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority.
Brown and his wife, Crystal, live in Decatur. They have three daughters and one granddaughter.
Ms. Banks – for whom the award is named – devoted 42 years of her life to education, serving 29 of them with Decatur City Schools. She was a public school teacher, the first woman principal at Carver Elementary School and a public school administrator. The award honors a member of our community whose life reflects the dedication, service and faithfulness to Decatur modeled in the example of Ms. Banks. Chamber members submitted nominations for the award, and applications were judged by a committee of past recipients