Complementing over forty years of professional work in strategic planning and marketing, Van Brokaw has dedicated his life to voluntary service. He has worked with organizations that care for sick children and individuals with developmental disabilities, supported the mental well-being of people and sought to better the human condition and environment through plant science.
Dedicated to caring for sick children, Van is motivated to give back because of the exceptional care his family received from St. Louis Children’s Hospital. For six years, he served there as both president of the Development Board and as a member of the Board of Trustees. During that time, he spearheaded the commitment of the Development Board to raise $1,000,000 for expansion of the hospital and chaired events that generated a net profit of $300,000 to cover expenses of families unable to afford clinical services.
Inspired by personal experience, Van focused much of his volunteer effort toward the community’s need to help those with mental disabilities. He served in leadership roles on boards of four agencies for a combined period of 32 years. His contributions have included guiding the start-up of the first eight group homes in a St. Louis neighborhood and directing successful efforts in marketing, public affairs and fundraising. As co-chair of the St. Louis County Commission for Long-Range Planning for the Special School District, Van guided plans to restore sound management practices and public trust. In all of this work, he helped raise awareness of the need to better care for children and adults and provided the foundations for many agencies to do that work. Van also served on the Board of the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute for 18 years and as the Institute’s Director of the Child Development Program for the last four years.
In another aspect of his life, Van is dedicated to improving the human condition and environment through his support of plant science research. He serves the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center as a pro bono marketing consultant and Member of the Public Affairs Council. He has also worked as Treasurer of the Members’ Board for the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Van’s commitment to volunteer service comes naturally and without question. In his nomination, David Jolley, Senior Director of Alumni and Development, wrote, “He lives a life of community involvement and dedication. His work for his family, for Washington University in St. Louis and for our society inspires many others to find their own level of commitment in following their passion.”