WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Oct. 14, 2021 — Alumnus and Wheeling resident Owen Brown was recently appointed by Gov. Jim Justice to fill the West Virginia Senate seat vacated by attorney William Ihlenfeld. Ihlenfeld left the seat to return to his role as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.
Brown also serves as the president of the West Virginia NAACP, a role that he has held since 2015. According to news reports, he is the first Black senator for the state senate, according to news reports.
Gov. Jim Justice announced the appointment on during his Oct. 7 COVID-19 briefing. Brown was chosen from a group of candidates that included former state delegate Randy Swartzmiller and Del. Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio. His district covers Brooke, Hancock, Ohio and part of Marshall.
A retired Wheeling resident, Brown worked for nearly 30 years as an organization development specialist for the West Virginia Education Association, also served as the organization’s human and civil rights coordinator. He holds a master’s degree in agency counseling from West Virginia University, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from West Liberty and an associate’s degree in electro/mechanical engineering from Belmont Technical College.
In 1983, he was selected as a special delegate to the United Nations to review the North American strategy against Apartheid in South Africa.