HARRISBURG (Nov. 8, 2017) — The Pennsylvania Bar Association named Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chairman Gladys M. Brown of Harrisburg the 2017 Government Lawyer of the Year. Brown will be presented with the award on Nov. 16 at PBA Committee/Section Day to be held at the Red Lion Inn, Harrisburg.
Presented by the PBA Government Lawyers Committee, the award honors a government lawyer who has made a significant singular contribution or has dedicated his or her career to outstanding service to the profession for the benefit of the public or a government entity. Brown was nominated for her “stellar record of experience, unimpeachable character, impeccable credentials and commitment to serve.”
As chairman of the Public Utility Commission, Brown manages 500 civil service and managerial employees and an annual budget of $74.6 million, while representing Pennsylvania’s utility interests at the state and national levels. Prior to becoming chairman, she was appointed commissioner of the PUC in 2013, served as counsel to the Senate Democratic Leader from 1991-2013 and was assistant counsel for the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs in the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Some of her many contributions throughout her time in public service include: authorization for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in Pennsylvania; education of consumers on retail competition and how to save on utility bills, and a Black Sky Event where major utility companies, heads of state agencies, municipal authorities and non-governmental agencies convened to discuss cybersecurity. Additionally, she has worked on many of the major utility issues that have been considered by the General Assembly in the last two decades, including deregulation bills for telecommunications, electricity and natural gas; Act 201 of 2004, which added Chapter 14 to the Public Utility Code and changed the handling of consumer terminations and reconnections; Act 129 of 2008, which addressed energy efficiency and procurement; and Act 11 of 2012, which expanded use of the distribution system improvement charge.
Brown is as equally committed to community service as she is to public service. Shortly after graduating from law school, she established a Minority College Mentor Program to assist underrepresented and disadvantaged high school students from the Middletown Area School District with the college admission process. Since then, the successful program has expanded to serve students from other school districts. In addition, Brown organized a Voter ID Forum in 2012 to educate voters on their rights and responsibilities under the Voter Identification Law. Held in the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg, the forum provided voters with practical guidance and counsel on what to expect at the voting poles and how to obtain proper identification to vote. Brown also led the planning of the AKA Energy Forum, a community event providing energy saving tips and information on do-it-yourself home projects for nearly 10 years and participated in the Capitol Hunger Garden, an area of land adjacent to the State Capitol Building that provides vegetables to local food banks.
A former member of the PBA House of Delegates, Brown is a member of the PBA Government Lawyers Committee; PBA Minority Bar Committee and its Government Lawyers Subcommittee, Minority Law Day Central PA Subcommittee and Legislative Subcommittee, and PBA Statutory Law Committee. She is also a member of the Dauphin County Bar Association, the James S. Bowman Inns of Court and the Keystone Bar Association. In addition, she co-chaired the Transportation Task Force of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and she belongs to the graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Epsilon Sigma Omega Chapter and the Harrisburg Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy. Brown serves on the Board of Directors of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
Brown received both B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.
Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association exists to promote justice, professional excellence and respect of the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 26,000 lawyers who are members of the association.