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Martesha Brown using opportunity to be the voice of the Rockford community

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Inspiring 815 Martesha Brown

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Martehsa Brown grew up through the Rockford Park District.

She could easily be found at Andrews Park, Washington Center or Lewis Lemon Community Center on any given day.

It's a love that is alive and well to this day with Martesha being appointed to park district's board of commissioners.

“I really feel like I’m coming back home and I’m surrounded by my family and friends to really help me grow," Brown said.

Martesha is Rockford through and through.

She's an Auburn High School graduate and has her MBA from Rockford University.

The only time spent outside of the Forest City was Martesha's time at SIU Carbondale for college as well as an internship in New York City.

A career in the big apple was a real possiblity for Martesha and she was close to taking it.

However, that temptation wasn't strong enough to pull her from her Rockford roots.

“When I think about the city of Rockford, we really have a unique culture where there’s an opportunity to build new friendships and collaborate," Brown said.

Martesha is not one to shy away from opportunity.

On top of her work with the Rockford Park District, her resume includes the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Goodwill of Northern Illinois and Transform Rockford.

All of her efforts have garned a lot of respect from city leaders.

Rockford Park District executive director Jay Sandine has a particular fondness for Martesha, whom he watched grow up through the organization for so many years.

"She’s one of those rare people when she walks in the room and everybody stops and gravitates toward her," Sandine said.

"I see Martesha as the ultimate role model. I would be proud if my kids ended up like Martesha.”

Martesha's admirers go all the way up to the leader of Rockford.

Tom McNamara has known her far before the word 'mayor' came before his name.


When describing Martesha, Mayor McNamara highlighted three qualities without hesitation.

She is brilliant, incredibly positive, and has a great work ethic.

“You want 147,000 Martesha Browns if you’re mayor of the city of Rockford," McNamara said.

"She is someone you could lean on and ask for A,B & C and she’s going to do that plus D, E & F and get it done.”

Everything Martesha has accomplished, and at such a young age, is providing her a platform to push for equity in the community.

Her appointment to the RPD Board of Commissioners is a historic one, becoming the first black woman to get the job.

Another opportunity for Martesha that she hopes can have a big impact in bringing our community together.

“I live to make sure I remove barriers for others, that there’s an opportunity to open doors for othersm," Brown said.

Martesha is a young woman who returned to her home to try and make it better.

If you know anyone who is trying to do the same thing in our community, you can fill out a nomination form here or you can reach out to eleake@wrex.com.

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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