A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:




Title: CEO

Age: 51


A spur-of-the-moment charitable trip to the Dominican Republican led to Richard Brown’s recent selection as president of the Starkey Hearing Foundation board of directors.

The trip happened to be departing, Brown said, the day after a philanthropic recognition program where he first met Bill Austin, Starkey Hearing Foundation founder and CEO of Eden Prairie-based Starkey Laboratories. The foundation gives Starkey hearing aids to children around the world.

Brown jumped at Austin’s spontaneous invitation to join that 2010 mission and has been a member of the board since last year, serving as co-chair of the fundraising committee.

“What [Austin] does and what Starkey Foundation does are all much in line with the values that I have, and it’s exciting to be part of that,” said Brown, who has been on 16 domestic and international foundation-related trips, including a 2012 mission to China.

Brown has been CEO of JNBA since 1995, joining the firm his mother, Judith Brown, founded in 1979. Richard Brown’s wife, Kim Brown, is president. As a fee-based, Registered Independent Advisory firm, JNBA offers financial planning and asset-management services. The firm has more than $500 million in assets under management.


Q How did your spontaneous decision to volunteer for the Starkey Hearing Foundation come about?

A JNBA and I had done a lot of work with Special Olympics, and I had just finished six years on their board. That night I met Bill, asked him to tell me about the foundation and was very intrigued. I said I’d love to get involved. He said, “How about tomorrow?” [I got] on a plane with him and went to the Dominican Republic.

Q Why should prospective clients bring their business to JNBA?

A It’s integrity, honesty and transparency, professional excellence, true service to others and acting in our clients’ best interests at all times. That’s who we are. When we have an opportunity to explain how that works, it’s easy for them to see.

Q What’s your advice on running a business with a spouse?

A The biggest piece of advice I can give is not to micromanage. My wife is a very successful person on her own, and when she took the responsibility of doing this, you have to let her bring her talents to the table. And I’m very grateful for that, because there are things that she is much better at than I am. It’s mutual respect for each other and our talents.

Todd Nelson