Elizabeth Brown was elected to Columbus City Council in 2015, reelected in 2019, and holds the office of President Pro Tempore. In addition, Brown is the Executive Director of the Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network. She has prior experience in economic development, nonprofit service, and state government. Brown worked as an economic development manager to the City of Columbus, taught middle school students as a City Year Americorps member, and has been published in New York Magazine and on WOSU Public Radio.
President Pro Tem Brown’s core objective is to fight for broad-based economic prosperity that levels the playing field for every family in Columbus. Her achievements reflect her belief that a level playing field relies heavily on strengthening the position of women and families. Brown led the implementation of a paid family leave policy for city employees – the first of its kind in the Midwest and the third nationally. As Education Committee Chair, she continues to sponsor scholarships for kids to enroll in high-quality pre-Kindergarten classrooms and to fund career development opportunities for pre-Kindergarten teachers with the goal of creating an affordable and equitable early-learning landscape that all families can access and where workers are supported.
She partnered with the Columbus Women’s Commission to win competitive grant funding focused on strengthening credit scores, improving access to credit and banking services, and providing household budgeting assistance for women and families in Columbus. This grant funding has helped launch the Financial Navigator program, a free service to connect residents with the resources they need, and to develop a plan for investing in free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a public service to residents.
To help families during the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown launched the Right to Recover program to provide emergency financial assistance to low-income workers who needed to take time off due to a positive COVID-19 test but who could not afford to miss a paycheck. She established a third-party delivery fee cap to protect local restaurants and business owners from exorbitant fees from out-of-state food delivery apps, and partnered with the Columbus Urban League to launch the Vaccine Green program to help cover the costs of getting vaccinated.
In partnership with CME Federal Credit Union, Brown launched the ACCESS (Affordable College and Career Education Starts with Saving) program, which provides an 8:1 match on education savings for eligible Columbus students. The program received national recognition as winner of the 2019 Ideas Challenge from the NewDEAL.
Brown funded an initiative with the Community Shelter Board to connect at-risk pregnant women with stable housing, employment assistance, and medical care. Over several years of advocacy, Brown instituted free menstrual products in recreation centers and municipal buildings, partnered with Columbus City Schools to offer free products in school bathrooms, and helped provide free products in homeless shelters.
In her first year on Council, Brown commissioned a comprehensive study of the city’s tax incentive policies, which resulted in a $15-per-hour minimum wage for city job programs and new affordable housing requirements for city housing supports. She introduced and passed an ordinance to promote the hiring of restored citizens and disadvantaged workers by companies who bid on city construction projects.
In 2017, in the face of newly aggressive and indiscriminant deportation tactics against Columbus residents, Brown established the Columbus Families Together Fund to provide legal resources to keep immigrant and refugee families intact. In 2016 after a spike in vandalism and police calls to reproductive health clinics, she passed a law to prevent harassment of workers and patients.
As Finance Committee Chair, Brown overhauled the city’s capital and operating budget processes by engaging with residents, area commissions, and civic associations to incorporate neighborhood-level feedback. She moved budget hearings outside of City Hall and into Columbus neighborhoods to make them accessible and accountable to residents.
Brown and her husband Patrick Katzenmeyer live in Columbus’s University District, along with their children Carolyn, Russell, and Maribell. Originally born in the Berwick neighborhood of Columbus, Brown was raised in Granville, Ohio, and is a proud public school graduate. Brown is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in English.