photo of James French

James French

Founder, Advisor, Speaker
Brownland Leadership Solutions (BLS)

James founded Brownland Leadership Solutions (BLS), a nonprofit consultancy dedicated to tangible enhancements in institutional performance, public trust, and societal impact through fortifying governance with innovations in stewardship. Guided by the insight that institutional resilience flourishes with widespread engagement, BLS is helping to chart an era of stewardship innovation, ushering in a renaissance in governance practices.

James, a respected innovator in technology, finance, and social impact, has dedicated his career to enhancing opportunities in countries spanning the globe. Throughout his professional journey, he has held senior executive positions at Citigroup in Africa, served as a US Treasury Advisor to Algeria, acted as a board director for Africa's largest microfinance bank, and pursued entrepreneurship in the fintech sector. Upon returning to the United States, he pioneered the implementation of the concept of 'structural parity' in historic site stewardship at a Founder site.

As a descendant of enslaved people in Virginia's Piedmont, James founded the Montpelier Descendants Committee (MDC). Over four years, he led a successful equal power-sharing revolution between the MDC and The Montpelier Foundation, which governs the historic site that was once home to the 4th US President, James Madison. In 2022, he made history as the first Chair of a Founder site from a descendant background, securing a groundbreaking $5.8 million Mellon Foundation grant. This innovative governance model, 'structural parity,' has earned global acclaim and is positioned to ignite an institutional renaissance, reshaping power and equity dynamics across sectors ranging from museums to corporate boardrooms, and even in the realm of AI.

James’ upbringing in the Ivory Coast and education at Phillips Exeter Academy, Boston University, and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business inform his diverse perspective and expertise in fostering impactful change.

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Events featuring James French
Events featuring James French