This article was published as part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who give back in their communities.


Mary Dailey Brown is the Co-Founder, President, and CEO of SowHope.Org, a 501C3 Multi-national, Charitable, Non-Government Organization dedicated to inspiring women in the developing world.  

Over the past 35 years, Mary has visited and traveled to  60 countries and has been involved personally and vocationally with the poor.  She is fluent in Spanish, having lived in Spain for nearly four years, and she has led over 100 volunteer teams to over 30 countries.

Mary earned a BA from Southern Illinois University with majors in Photography and Psychology.  She completed a Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Grand Valley State University, where she now teaches as an adjunct professor. 

Mary worked at the White House as a staff photographer serving both Carter and Reagan.  She owned a professional freelance photography business in the North Suburbs of Chicago for 10 years.

Mary served as the founding Executive Director of Love Inc (formerly, the US branch of World Vision) of Lake County, IL.  She was the Director of Missions at Bella Vista Church in Rockford, MI for eight years and it was during that time that she traveled to many third world countries and developed the vision to start SowHope. 

Mary has been married to Doug Brown since 1981 and has two adult sons, John & Alex.

Read what inspires Mary to continue to serve communities around the world in the interview below:

How do you give back? 

Personally, I usually give directly to impoverished people or people who are actually living and helping in impoverished areas.  

After traveling around the world and seeing the undeniable plight of women, my husband and I started SowHope in 2006. We sold the farm he had inherited from his parents (which we were saving for our retirement) to start SowHope and assist, what I believe to be the largest, most oppressed group in the world- impoverished women in developing nations.  

What inspired you to start giving?

Originally, I was inspired by my mother, who, while not wealthy, was extremely generous to anyone in need and also regularly supported her church.

I was inspired to start SowHope while observing the consistent wretched state of impoverished women around the world.  It was their lack of dignity, livelihood, opportunities, and hope that moved me to give up my comfortable situation and try to do something to make their lives better.

What does giving mean to you?  Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?

It means working 24/7 on behalf of a worthy cause that is changing lives, communities, nations, and the next generation.  It means going outside my comfort zone to effect positive change in war-torn, impoverished, and despairing places. Empowering women has proven to be an immensely valuable tool in bringing prosperity, peace, and justice.

What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back?  Share a piece of advice will help them get started.

Expose yourself to someone’s difficult situation and imagine yourself in their place. Then follow your heart.

Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.

Watching my teenage son teaching an 8 year old boy how to smooth out cement on the floor of a house we were building for a widow in Mexico.