DMDII names Chandra Brown its new executive director

By UI Labs news release

Sep 19, 2018

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The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) has named former federal executive and startup trailblazer Chandra Brown as the institute's executive director, effective Sept. 26, 2018.

Launched in 2014, DMDII is where innovative manufacturers forge their futures. Collaborating with the U.S. Department of Defense and more than 300 partners in industry, academia and government, DMDII helps equip U.S. manufacturers with the digital tools and expertise needed to build every part better than the last and establish a more reliable, efficient and secure manufacturing capability.

“I am honored to join DMDII and further its mission of making U.S. manufacturers more capable, productive and secure,” said Brown. “A goal of this magnitude requires the best of both the private and public sectors, and I am excited to bring my experience to bear as DMDII helps to reinvigorate domestic manufacturing and ultimately create robust economic growth and high-paying jobs.”

Brown has more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing, federal policymaking, international trade and startup and small business management.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing at the U.S. Department of Commerce from March 2013 to January 2016, Brown played a leadership role in the U.S. Manufacturing Council and other advisory councils that shaped national manufacturing policy, including the initiative that established the network of 14 Manufacturing USA institutes including DMDII. While at the Department of Commerce, Brown promoted U.S. businesses worldwide, worked to remove trade barriers and oversaw a portfolio of programs aimed at increasing the international competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.

Before joining DMDII, Brown was the CEO and founder of Brown Executive Strategies, a strategic consulting firm focused on helping small businesses worldwide increase their competitiveness. She was previously president of Green Endeavor, Inc., a startup that helped industries replace harmful chemicals with more effective, affordable and greener alternatives.

Prior to her federal government appointment, Brown worked for 19 years at Oregon Iron Works, most recently as vice president and then CEO of its subsidiary, United Streetcar. United Streetcar was the first U.S. manufacturer to create a modern streetcar in more than 60 years.

At DMDII, Brown will be responsible for overseeing the institute’s research and development portfolio and fostering relationships with government and businesses to put newly-demonstrated capabilities into practice.

“The U.S. is competing in a global race to realize the transformative potential of the fourth industrial revolution,” said Caralynn Nowinski Collens, CEO of UI LABS, DMDII’s parent organization. “With Chandra’s experience as a manufacturing leader, entrepreneur and policymaker, DMDII is more equipped than ever to deliver the solutions our partners need to win.”

Brown will align DMDII’s activities with current national priorities and policy, such as Presidential Executive Order 13806, which directed the government to assess the capacity and resiliency of the nation’s manufacturing and defense industrial base as well as its supply chains. The executive order, issued in July 2017, set the president’s priorities for strengthening all three in the future.

“The Manufacturing USA network welcomes Chandra to the team as we work together to bolster the U.S. manufacturing supply chain,” said Tracy Frost, director of manufacturing technologies in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “From improving cybersecurity and resiliency to ensuring small businesses and suppliers meet federal regulations designed for the digital age, the pioneering advances being delivered under DMDII’s leadership are benefiting warfighters and U.S. manufacturing workers alike.”

Brown has received numerous awards, including White House Champion of Change in 2011 and The Right Stuff Award from the Apollo Alliance in 2010. She was named one of the 50 most influential Portlanders in 2012.

For more on DMDII, visit

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