Eller Alumna of the Year: Sarah Brown Smallhouse

Nov. 4, 2014

Leading up to the UA's 100th Homecoming, we are highlighting UA alumni who are being honored with alumni of the year awards.

Tucson native and UA alumna Sarah Brown Smallhouse is president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundations, named for her late father.

In the late 1980s, thinking an M.B.A. would help her regardless of the twists and turns of her career, Smallhouse turned to the UA and the Eller College of Management. She recalls highlights of her degree program: writing a business plan for an innovative technology developed at the Environmental Research Lab; traveling to Guangzhou, China, for an exchange trip; and the extraordinary influence of faculty members like Bob Tyndall, who taught the capstone course for the entrepreneurship students.

Four years after completing her M.B.A., Smallhouse became president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundations. The foundations encourage an entrepreneurial mindset and awareness of basic economic principles through strategic partnerships with the UA and a wide range of community organizations, including Science Foundation Arizona, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson and Tucson Medical Center.

Under the leadership of Smallhouse, the foundations partner with and support the UA in myriad ways: endowing the Thomas R. Brown Teaching Fellows Program to prepare economics doctoral students for faculty roles across the country; supporting the Office of Economic Education to help Arizona K-12 teachers learn basic principles of economics to take back to their classrooms; and assisting students and faculty through scholarships and endowed faculty positions in the Departments of Management Information Systems and Economics.

Also, Smallhouse is the immediate past-chair of the UA Foundation's board of trustees, co-chair of the Arizona NOW capital campaign and serves on advisory boards in the College of Engineering and the College of Science. Smallhouse also is a board member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and chairs the board of the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center, illustrating the breadth of her community engagement.

Before the UA, Smallhouse earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Washington. She also earned an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In 2008, Smallhouse was named the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year, and in 2012 she received the Thomas L. Swanson Regional Leadership Award from the Pima Association of Governments for her efforts enhancing regional community and promoting cooperation among residents and elected officials.

Smallhouse will receive the Eller College of Management's Alumna of the Year award.

Other UA alumni being honored are:

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