“To me, SWODA is community helping community,” Edie Brown, South Western Oklahoma Development Authority (SWODA) Board of Trustee chairperson, stated without hesitation.
Brown has represented the conservation districts for Washita County on the SWODA board since 2009. The leadership and service mentality Brown brings to the board is a natural fit, as she has been the secretary for the Washita County Conservation District for 25 years and has served a dual role as the Kiowa County Conservation District secretary since 2015 as well.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) presented her the Standing in the Gap award for being available to help with their programs and paperwork in 2010. Brown received the NRCS Partnership Award for Conservationist of the Year in 2014. In 2019, the Oklahoma Association of Conservation District Employees (OACDE) recognized her as the Employee of the Year.
She was nominated to serve on the SWODA Executive Committee in 2015 and now serves as the Authority’s chairperson. Brown also achieved perfect board meeting attendance five different years. Brown is the first female chairperson for SWODA, and hopes she will set a precedent for other women to work through the executive committee process of leadership.
“We have representatives from the full eight-county area that meet every month and try to help each community as we can,” Brown said. “It’s service to others,” she continued.
Brown believes that generally, most people are familiar with SWODA because of the variety of benefits and resources offered through SWODA Aging Services including the Community Expansion of Nutrition Assistance (CENA) funding that helps senior citizen meal programs. She believes this program is very critical for our area.
The SWODA Housing Program has become a big headline according to Brown, and she sees it as very beneficial to our communities. “Affordable housing is so desperately needed in some of our smaller communities,” she said. Brown recognizes many people have the dream of owning their own home, yet decent housing is so hard to find. “In all actuality, when you can buy a house cheaper than you can rent a house – why not?”
The aging and housing programs are two of many programs facilitated through SWODA. “Without SWODA, all of our communities would be searching for and hoping to find some of the services we offer,” Brown said. “They (member entities) know there is a place call to ask questions or get help when there is a need.”
Edie was born in Roswell, New Mexico then moved to the family farm in Cordell when she was five. She attended Cordell Schools until she was a junior, then completed high school & graduated from Clinton. Edie married her junior high sweetheart, Stan. They lived in four different states plus Germany while Stan served in the Army. They have raised four daughters and have been married for 44 years.
Most of Edie and Stan’s time is devoted to the activities of their nine grandchildren and one great grandchild. “Family is our favorite place to be,” she said. “It means so much, and God has blessed us so much.”
They also like to travel as often as possible making Branson, Missouri a regular trip over Veteran’s Day. Stan is a veteran, and they enjoy the parade at the annual celebration. They are members of the First Baptist Church of Cordell, and Edie serves on the Cordell Cemetery Board.
“I am so blessed,” she expressed repeatedly throughout the interview. “I strive to appreciate the blessings and remain dedicated to what God has blessed me with.” Her loyal and dedicated service to the conservation districts and to the SWODA Board are actions of appreciation with a community heart.
A perspective on life from Edie is: Pay attention to see the need of others, and when given a job don’t be lazy—give it your all!