Giving a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves
By Abigail Thorpe
Kootenai County’s 2019 top 30 under 40 winner Katie Brown’s interest in childhood education started in high school, when she took a family consumer science course. When she got to college, she knew it was her calling.
A Coeur d’Alene area native, Katie grew up in Athol, was a dedicated 4-H student and loved everything about her childhood. “Growing up here, it just has everything that I love—being close to the water, the woods; being close to my family,” says Katie.
She earned her associates degree from NIC, where she confirmed she was passionate about early childhood education and child safety. “I just loved it and that really got me kicked off and started in childhood education,” Katie recalls. She went on to receive a degree from the University of Idaho, and when the opportunity presented itself, decided to complete her Master of Science in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in early childhood education from Arizona State University.
She met her husband, and both decided to settle in her hometown area. “We both have really strong roots here in North Idaho, and this is where we wanted to settle down,” Katie says. In both her professional and free time, she is dedicated to serving the local community through childhood education opportunities and child safety awareness.
Her primary career is as a service coordinator with the Idaho Infant Toddler Program. Katie has worked there for two-and-a-half years, working to connect families with services and resources.
The most rewarding part of her work is knowing that community members are connected with the people and resources they need. “Knowing that children are safer, and giving that voice to those who can’t speak for themselves quite yet, and then giving parents the tools—that is the most rewarding part,” she says. “Hearing someone say, ‘I had no idea.’”
Katie also serves as a facilitator for the United Way of North Idaho’s Ready! For Kindergarten program. She’s in her sixth year with the organization and helps to facilitate parent workshops and childcare providers. For her, it’s about “reminding parents it's OK to play with your child and to have fun, and that’s really where learning comes from,” she says.
Katie has served for over four years on the board of directors for Northwest Infant Survival and SIDS Alliance (NISSA), formerly the Inland Northwest SIDS Foundation, and currently serves as the board president.
Beyond her full-time profession, NISSA and United Way, Katie makes time to offer her services as a Safe Sleep Educator, teaching families and caregivers how to help their babies sleep safely. She provides community education and awareness through events and is one of three founding members of the North Idaho Passenger Safety Team, a cause that is very close to her heart.
She’s passionate about “educating community and early education for kiddos and health and safety when it comes to children,” says Katie. “I find myself being super passionate about car seat safety information.”
Katie says what she finds most difficult is when she’s unable to help someone. “Whether that is that their views may not align and that I’m unable to get them that education, or that someone is struggling and not having the tools to support them, because then it can lead to so many other things in child safety.”
Katie’s passion and work in the child education and safety world make a huge impact on her local community, and being a part of a small, tight-knit community like Coeur d’Alene is rewarding to her. “Being part of that community definitely makes a difference because not only do I know that I can be a support to someone else, I know that I have a community that can be a support to me when I need it,” she says. “It continues to drive my passion, knowing that I always have someone I can count on to back me up when I'm out doing things that I'm passionate about.”
Besides volunteering, Katie loves to spend time with her husband camping and enjoying the beautiful outdoors of North Idaho. She loves having close friends nearby and takes every opportunity she gets to snuggle their kids, which she calls her “bonus babies.” She’s stayed connected to 4-H and currently serves as a Clover Bud leader, inspired by the time and joy she had participating with the organization throughout her childhood. “I always have a blast with them,” she smiles.