Pamela Browner White, ’87
Last year at this time, Pamela Browner White had the kind of job people brag about. She was senior vice president of public affairs and government relations for the Philadelphia Eagles, the first African-American to be named a VP in the National Football League.
But the YSU alumna resigned from the Eagles job in April to search for a new opportunity. By July, she had signed on as vice president of public affairs for Cancer Treatment Centers of America, a world far-removed from professional sports.
It’s her first venture into health care, but Browner White has never been afraid to try something new. “Some people laughed when I left banking to join the Philadelphia Eagles. ‘Pamela in the sports industry?’ they said. But it was an incredible opportunity to work with some of country’s elite athletes,” she commented. “I had a great time, a lot of fun.”
Browner White was already familiar with Cancer Treatment Centers of America, having served on the board of directors for its Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia for the past five years. CTCA has regional hospitals in Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa, and a fifth is set to open in Atlanta next year.
“I wanted to get back into a line of business that was more directly related to helping people,” she explained. “Cancer has impacted my family deeply. We lost my mother to breast cancer when she was only 30. If Cancer Treatment Centers had been available, I am sure the outcome would have been different.”
As a board member, Browner White said, she was always moved by the centers’ commitment to excellence. “At a certain level, we all put so much time in at the office. I feel incredibly blessed that the work I do with CTCA is so closely aligned to my own personal aspirations.”
A Philadelphia native, Browner White came to YSU in the mid-1980s as a non-traditional transfer student, married, with one child and another on the way. “Coming to YSU was not my first beginning, but it was my best beginning,” she told a student group when she visited the campus recently. “Here, I had professors who cared about me and my future.”
She graduated in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in marketing and landed her first job as a newswoman for WYTV-Channel 33 in Youngstown. She had been reporting on a landfill controversy involving Browning Ferris Industries, but the company offered to create a corporate communications job just for her, and she took it. “At first I wanted to be the next Diane Sawyer,” she recalls, “but my dream changed.”
From there she worked in the newspaper and banking industries and had risen to a top position as a communications strategist for Citizen’s Bank before joining the Eagles. She has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Business in Pennsylvania, and this summer she was presented the President’s Award by the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP for her efforts to promote diversity and the advancement of minorities.
As chair of The Marian Anderson Award, which honors celebrities for their humanitarian work, Browner White has met famous recipients such as Bill Cosby, Maya Angelou, Richard Gere, Sidney Poitier, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones and Elizabeth Taylor. “Sometimes I think I’m the luckiest person I know,” she said.
She moved from Philadelphia to a suburb of Chicago when she accepted her new job, a relocation made easier because her husband, Jeremiah White Jr., is a business consultant. They created a blended family with eight adult children – and eight grandchildren – when they married just over two years ago.
(Previously published in YSU Magazine, Fall 2011.)