CLEVELAND — **Sashi Brown is the Browns' executive vice president of football operations and a proud father of three. And over the course of the last four-and-a-half-years, he's found a way to successfully balance the two.
So it seemed fitting that Brown headlined the 12th annual Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative Friday as its keynote speaker, offering a message he hopes will resonate with the roughly 500 audience members in attendance at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Cleveland.
"(Family is) a big piece of what we're about at the Browns in our locker room and also individually as we support our guys as a coaching staff, our players, or our front office folks that family is first and that we at the Browns are a family as well," he said.
"And certainly in the Cleveland community that family is really a cornerstone of the health of Cleveland and the community here. I just wanted to make sure the Browns' commitment to that message and that is a core value of ours."
The Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative is aimed at strengthening families in Northeast Ohio and encourages fathers to play a more active role in raising their children. The CCFI addresses social concerns regarding the idea of "father absence" by offering fathers services designed to help them meet "the emotional, psychological, and financial needs of their children.”
And with Father's Day on Sunday, Brown and other important community members gathered here, including Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, and spoke of their journeys through fatherhood.
"Being a father is one of the most rewarding parts of my life – perhaps the most rewarding," Budish said. "And we at the County work hard to support fathers who want to be part of their child's life. Having partners like the Cleveland Browns is critical to providing our fathers and our children with the best opportunity to succeed in life."
Brown, who has been with the Browns since 2013 and became their EVP of football operations in January, echoed a similar sentiment.
"It's thrilling, as I said in the speech, being a father is a challenge but it's a joy certainly," he said. "Every experience teaches you a lot. Fatherhood is so intimate, it really teaches you and illustrates kind of who you are and accentuates your values and fears and strengths and all those things."
Brown said the Browns will continue to be increasingly involved with the community.
"I know it comes from the Haslams, there's no question they're big believers in not only individual, but also organizational commitment and involvement at the community and civic levels," Brown said.
"And certainly since I've been here, that's been a big piece of what they've been about — they have a long history of this that dates back to generations in their family.
"So I think Cleveland is very fortunate to have them as owners and you're seeing and will continue to see more of an increased presence and involvement in the level of activity from our players and coaches and our entire organization. Whether that's #Give10 or smaller speeches like this, we certainly try to do our part to be a piece of this community and impact it positively."
And on this day, it was about the importance of fatherhood and the effect it can have on families in Northeast Ohio and beyond.
"It's a wonderful experience," Brown said, "and I think it makes me a better executive, a better manager of people, a better person to interact with at work just because it gives you so much perspective."