A Will to Lead: Estate gift from alumna funds global study scholarship

The generous estate gift from The Rev. Joyce Myers-Brown ’59 of Atlanta will deepen funding for a scholarship she established in 2011 to increase access to global study. The gift is part of A Will to Lead, a special initiative of the Elon LEADS Campaign to encourage donors to include the university in their estate plans.

The Rev. Joyce Myers-Brown ’59 of Atlanta has continued her philanthropic support of Elon by making an estate gift to the Elon LEADS Campaign to fund the Rev. Joyce B. Myers-Brown ’59 International Study Award, which she established in 2011 to ensure students have access to life-changing global experiences.

The Rev. Joyce Myers-Brown ’59

Myers-Brown said she made her estate gift to thank Elon for preparing her for a life of purpose and to support the university’s leadership in global study. For the last 16 years, Elon has been ranked #1 among the nation’s doctoral universities in the percentage of students who study abroad, according to the Open Doors 2020 report by the Institute of International Education.

“I am very proud of Elon and appreciate the direction it is going in,” Myers-Brown said. “The fact that Elon is tops in the country for undergraduate teaching and for the number of students who have an overseas experience is inspiring.”

Myers-Brown also appreciates what Elon meant to her as a student and how Elon continues to enrich her life as an alumna.

“Elon was very important in my life,” she said. “I had professors who made a huge impact on me. They opened my mind and my heart to a wider world than I had coming in, and they were so warm and welcoming. They opened up their homes to students and were like family.”

Her estate gift is part of A Will to Lead, a special initiative of the $250 million Elon LEADS Campaign to encourage alumni, parents and friends to place Elon in their estate plans, providing vital funding for the university’s future. As of Nov. 4, donors had contributed $229.4 million toward the Elon LEADS goal, including $7 million to A Will to Lead.

A Life Devoted to Service

Myers-Brown, an ordained United Church of Christ minister, studied religion, religious education and philosophy at Elon. After graduating summa cum laude in 1959, she attended Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and was ordained in 1963. Shortly after, she was sent to Angola to do theological education and leadership training. She remained in the African nation for 12 years before being evacuated due to civil war in 1975.

After returning to the United States, Myers-Brown continued to support Angola by speaking out against the violence she saw and bringing to light the issues that colonization caused within Angola. She served as a missionary-in-residence with the United Church Board for World Ministries in New York City and then on staff with the Office for Church Life and Leadership (OCLL), moving to Atlanta for a 10-year assignment as Southern Regional Associate with OCLL. During this time, she met her husband, the late Rev. Edward M. Brown, whom she married in 1987. They then served two years in northern France as co-pastors with the Reformed Church of France.

Myers-Brown also became involved with the Atlanta chapter of the United Nations Association and chaired the Adopt-a-Minefield program, a landmine-clearing initiative through the UN, and helped raise money to clear nine minefields in Mozambique. Her legacy of peace and justice lived on as she continued her life’s work, including tutoring at a school with children of Hispanic immigrants, participating in peaceful protests carrying a “War is Not the Answer” sign as part of the Stand for Peace initiative and through her involvement with the Atlanta Interfaith Sisters and Church Women United.

She has received numerous awards for her steadfast commitment to peace and social justice, including the 2007 CWU Human Rights Award, the 2002 Church Women United Valiant Woman Award, the 1998 Henry Weaver Peace Award and the 1989 Antoinette Brown Outstanding Woman in Ministry Award. In addition, Elon honored Myers-Brown with the Outstanding Alumna of the Year award in 1976.

Inspired Philanthropy at Elon

Myers-Brown credits her Christian upbringing and Elon for instilling in her a belief in peace, justice and love for all people. These ideals, along with her overseas experience, continue to inspire her decades of philanthropy at Elon, where she has made gifts to support study abroad and scholarships among other priorities.

In 2011 she established the Rev. Joyce B. Myers-Brown ’59 International Study Award to make sure students with financial need could participate in study abroad, one of the university’s signature Elon Experiences programs. Her recent estate gift will help grow that endowment, allowing the award to continue changing lives for generations to come.

“It’s so crucial for everyone, but especially for young people, to have an experience beyond their milieu,” Myers-Brown said. “We’re all in this together and we need to love and respect each other, whether in this country or around the world.”

Myers-Brown said her time in Angola expanded her worldview and demonstrated the importance of global engagement and learning new cultures.

“I think the more you are a part of other cultures, the more you realize how we are all alike and all have the same needs and aspirations and how no one is worthy of more consideration than anyone else,” she said. “We all are part of humanity and God’s children and need to survive and strive as one human family.”

Myers-Brown has high hopes for her scholarship in the future and appreciates the ease of making her gift through her estate.

“I’m confident that when I’m gone, Elon will be taken care of and that I’ve set that up in my estate plan,” she said. “I’ve thought through carefully about what my values are and have thought about what kind of impact I want to make on the world. I trust Elon to direct my gift where I want it to go. I knew then and I know now how I would best like to help Elon and that is by helping Elon help the youth of the future.”

Myers-Brown has spent her life as an engaged global citizen and now is making it possible for Elon students to have those same experiences, noted Elizabeth Read, Elon’s assistant director of planned giving.

“Joyce’s incredible life and the lives she has changed through her generosity to Elon serve as an inspiring example of the impact that Elon graduates have locally and globally,” Read said. “Her estate gift allows that impact to be felt forever, and we are truly grateful.”

A Will to Lead Initiative

Placing Elon in your estate offers the following benefits:

  • A Lasting Legacy: Your impact will be felt for generations.
  • Support for Your Priorities: Choose the program or opportunity meaningful to you.
  • Maximum Flexibility: Provide for yourself and loved ones with no financial impact today.
  • Peace of Mind: Be confident Elon will honor your philanthropic wishes.
  • Ease of Giving: Elon staff can walk you through the process, including providing language to share with your attorney or financial advisor when making your estate plans.
  • Order of the Oak: Your estate gift qualifies you for membership in Elon’s planned giving recognition society.

Ways to Give

  • Estate Beneficiary: Designate Elon as a beneficiary in your will, either as a percentage of your estate or a specific amount.
  • IRA Beneficiary: Designate Elon as a beneficiary of your retirement account(s).
  • Residual Bequest: Designate a specific amount or percentage of your estate to Elon after your assets have been distributed to other priorities.
  • For more information about how to include Elon in your estate planning, contact Elizabeth Read, assistant director of planned giving, at (336) 278-7474 or eread@elon.edu. You may also visit www.elonleads.com for more information.

About the Elon LEADS Campaign

With a $250 million goal, Elon LEADS is the largest campaign in the university’s history and will support four main funding priorities: scholarships for graduates the world needs, access to engaged learning opportunities such as study abroad, research, internships and service learning, support for faculty and staff mentors who matter and Elon’s iconic campus. As of November 4, donors had contributed $229.4 million toward the goal.

Every gift to the university—including annual, endowment, capital, estate and other planned gifts—for any designation counts as a gift to the campaign, which will support students and strengthen Elon for generations to come. Visit www.elonleads.com to learn how you can make an impact with your gift.