In Memoriam

H. James Brown, Former President of the Lincoln Institute
By Anthony Flint, February 11, 2021


H. James (Jim) Brown, who served as president of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy from 1996 to 2005, died Sunday, January 24, 2021, in New York City. He was 80 years old.

Brown, a native of Indiana who grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, studied economics before becoming a specialist in urban planning, housing, and land use policies. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University and completing his Ph.D. at Indiana University, he served as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in New York and then started his long career at Harvard University beginning in 1970.

He served as professor of city and regional planning and director of the MIT-Harvard Joint Center for Urban Studies, later reorganized as the Joint Center for Housing Studies, a collaboration of the Kennedy School of Government and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. There he initiated the signature annual report, The State of the Nation’s Housing, and chaired sessions of the Housing Leadership Conference, a national forum that bridged academia and the private sector. He received several awards for teaching and his lively engagement with students.

Brown was named the third chief executive of the Lincoln Institute in 1996, announced by Chair of the Board and Chief Investment Officer Kathryn J. Lincoln. Brown expanded programs in Latin America and set the foundation for an ambitious engagement with China. During his tenure, the Lincoln Institute also advanced regular gatherings of practitioners, including city planning directors, legal scholars in land use and property rights, and journalists. A joint venture with the Sonoran Institute was also established. 

“Jim Brown was a respected colleague and dear friend who helped increase the already high academic standards of the Institute to greater levels,” said Lincoln. “We will remember him for his intellect–and his impish smile.” 

Brown was succeeded by Gregory K. Ingram in 2005. The current president is George W. “Mac” McCarthy.

An avid golfer, sailor, and “parrothead”—devoted fan of the Caribbean-infused country rock musician Jimmy Buffett—Brown took up boxing later in life, even as he battled Parkinson’s. He chaired the Schooner Ernestina Commission to preserve, restore, and operate an historic Grand Banks fishing vessel.

Brown is survived by his wife, Cynthia; daughters Kimberly Woodwell (William) of Staunton, Virginia; Kristine Mahar (Dan) of Lafayette, Colorado; Heather Brown (John LaFargue) of Eureka, California; stepsons Mark Nichols of New York, New York, and Sebastian Nichols of Aina Haina, Honolulu; five grandchildren; and his former wife Laura Gallant of Staunton, Virginia. 

A private memorial was planned. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Caribbean Educational and Baseball Foundation in Jim’s memory. 



Anthony Flint is a senior fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and a contributing editor of Land Lines.

Photograph Credit: Lincoln Institute archives.