Lesley Anne Brown, 29
Life Story: For proof that the Whisky Wisemen Society isn’t a boys’ club, look no further than Lesley Anne Brown. The Vancouver-founded society is a global non-profit that brings young professionals together over whisky in support of local charities, Brown explains. “We are our own community, and then we are a community that raises money for the communities we operate in.”
Brown was raised in Oakville, Ontario; her mom and dad, immigrants from Jamaica and Antigua, respectively, are a workplace diversity consultant and a mechanic. In 2013, while a global studies undergrad at Ryerson University, she joined the G(irls)20 Global Summit, which seeks to boost female participation in the labour force, as logistics and communications manager. The next year Brown moved to Vancouver, where she worked in operations and investor relations for a private equity firm and began attending the Whisky Wisemen’s monthly events. In 2015, after she created private membership group Club Wise, the founders asked her to join the board. When Brown took over as CEO in early 2017, she launched a golf tournament, a speaker series and a whisky festival.
The Bottom Line: Under Brown’s leadership, the Whisky Wisemen has grown its revenue by more than 85 percent and opened new chapters in Toronto and Miami. So far, it has raised about $60,000 for charity. The society, which had five active chapters as of February, plans to grow to 20 chapters and $250,000 in donations within five years.
Your favourite song is…
It’s not my favourite, but Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again on My Own” sticks out in my life. My first leap into independence was travelling Europe by myself. Every time I left a global city, I listened to that song. Since then, [I’ve played it] whenever I’ve taken on my next big challenge.
Who is your role model or mentor?
What’s your biggest regret?
The amount of time I invested in unsupportive relationships, both personally and professionally.
A little-known fact about you is…
I was a competitive dancer for most of my younger years. I danced all types—tap, musical theatre, jazz, lyrical, you name it.