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Alexis Brown

Business Consultant
Creative Strategist
Professional Opportunist
Intentional Writer
Lover of Local

I am a strategist and writer with a background in finding opportunities, getting things done, and effectively communicating to the right people at the right time. 

For over 24 years, I have supported small businesses, nonprofits, and artists with refining their messaging and strengthening their operations. I have done this as a Director of Development & Communications, a volunteer, a board member, and a community activist. In 2020, officially formed my consulting business as Deer Heart Consulting. In 2021, I formed Deer Heart Solutions Ltd. Co. and now do business as DH Solutions. 

My mission has always been to help people reach their goals and achieve success. Because we all benefit when others succeed. 

skills + qualifications

While employed at nonprofits, the face of my work was fundraising. The heart of my work was telling stories and connecting with people. This is how I sold ideas and emotions to the tune of over $7,000,000 (an average of $375,000 per year.) And, the work I did continued to generate revenue for those organizations long after I was gone.

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This is what I had to learn in order to achieve that:

  • Advertising

  • Branding

  • Budget Development

  • Business Plans

  • Campaign Planning

  • Copy Editing

  • Copywriting Writing

  • Crisis Communications

  • Crowdsourcing / Crowdfunding

  • Customer Profiles

  • Customer Roadmaps

  • Database Development

  • eCommerce Websites 

  • Email Newsletters

  • Event Planning

  • Grant Strategy & Grant Writing

  • Graphic Design

  • Graphic Design Oversight

  • Infographics & Fact Sheets

  • Internal Communications

  • Inventory Control

  • Market Analysis

  • Media Relations & Press Releases

  • Pitch Decks

  • Print Newsletters

  • Problem Solving

  • Process Management

  • Project Management

  • Relationship Building

  • Research

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Secondary Market ResearchSmall Business Systems Development

  • Social Media

  • Storytelling

  • Strategy Creation & Strategic Action Plans

  • Trend Analysis

  • Website Content Writing 

  • Website Design

background & influences

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connection to place

I was born and raised in Santa Fe, and spent much of my youth in communities throughout the state. I stayed in New Mexico after high school to go to St. John's College. I stayed after St. John's because of my love for the land and the people here. Our connection to this place becomes such a major part of our stories. 

music developed my skills

I studied music for 20 years. This enhanced my ability to plan, make decisions, process multiple things at once, and develop solutions to complex problems. Music contributed greatly to my learning patience, persevererance, abstract reasoning, creativity, and self-discipline. Band is where I learned how to work well with a team or be a leader.

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college shaped my thinking

My entire life I have loved to read, learn, and write. These loves started as escapism but they became ways for me to expand my understanding of the world. This curiosity and desire to know more about the human condition is partly why I was accepted into St. John's College, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and a Master of Arts in Eastern Classics.

 

My studies taught me to think critically, analytically, and creatively, to speak and write clearly, and to truly listen to others.

mentors gave me direction

I worked in the  St. John's Advancement Office for around 7 years after I graduated. As my career was just beginning, I was blessed with many amazing mentors.

The Development Director in Annapolis, Stef Takacs, showed me that developing a strong strategy includes looking at both the big picture and the fine details. She opened the door for me to ditch my entry-level PR positon and become a Development Coordinator that worked with major donors and elite board members.  

 

I often collaborated on projects with Ellen Herr - the best graphic designer I've ever worked with. She showed me the Art of graphic design and she taught me that great design is rooted in creative strategy. 

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Jean Bransford was the only woman working in the IT Department. She saw my aptitude for understanding relational databases and convinced the higher-ups to send me for specialized training on the college's Unix database. When I reviewed data, I didn't see blinking cursors and spreadsheets. I saw people and relationships, where they came from and what was of interst to them. I saw the threads that connected people.

 

My fourth mentor at St. John's was Jeff Bishop (d), the VP for college-wide advancement. He was based in Annapolis but came to Santa Fe a few times a year. With each visit, he and I would have lunch  "in town", searching out the best green chile cheeseburger. 

The ideas that shaped my approach to business development and writing for businesses and nonprofits were learned while noshing on greasy burgers and fries. 

Lesson 1: The key to effective fundraising and business development is building  authentic relationships.

Lesson 2: Regardless of any differences in age, gender, background, socio-economic status, education, etc, with every person you interact, there is going to be an idea or experience or interest that you can connect over as well as something new they can teach you.

Many years later, another mentor came into my life: Vicki Pozzebon of Prospera Partners. Almost immediately after our first meeting, she secured the funding for me to attend the 2015 BALLE Conference (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, now known as Common Future). Later, we worked together on the board of the Partnership for Responsible Business. And, when my life turned upside down and the pandemic began, she showed up for me in a big way. Her support and encouragment has been unwaivering and I am continually inspired by her ability to connect people, her efforts to strengthen our community by teaching social responsibility, and by the compassionate way that she meets people where they're at. 

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about the name Deer Heart

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I have many names. I have been known as Alexis my entire life. I chose it as the name I would be known as because it is a more commonly known diminutive form of my birth name - and easier to pronounce. I chose it and so it represents my individuality. It comes from the Greek name Alexander, which means "defender, protector of people" or "helper of people."  

I was born Alexandrina Imma Irene Isabel Brown. This includes family names on my mother's side. It connects me to my Scottish ancestors. I am from Clan Ross, from the highlands north of Inverness. Clan Ross has a lineage that can be traced to the 10th-century Gilleon na h-airde, a Celtic-speaking Pict. It is said that, to the Picts, "ross" meant "noble steed" or stag.  

I am also a tribally enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, of the Watonlak Oshi “White Crane” Clan. It is through this family that I was given another name - Issi Chunkash. It means Deer Heart. The Choctaw believe these names were given to us by our ancestors and that, similar to Socrates, our name has always been ours and it is intrinsic to who we are. 

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The deer has economic and spiritual significance in both Choctaw and Scottish cultures. It is the deer that provides sustenance, clothing, and a means of trade.  For the Choctaw, the deer also signifies compassion. And both cultures see the deer as a reminder of cyclical patterns, regeneration, resilience, restoration, healing, growth, and guidance.

And though both cultures hold these ideas of the deer, I chose the name Deer Heart specifically because the Choctaw people embody these ideas. They walked the Trail of Tears knowing they would face hardship and death but they had a vision of health, balance, and rejuvenation for the Choctaw people. They show us what is possible when you are resilient through dark times and develop an ability to quickly adapt to change. A mere 4,000 people survived the walk. But the Trail of Tears did not destroy them. It made them more compassionate and giving. And now they are the third largest tribe in the United States, with over 200,000 enrollees located around the world. Their resilience and adaptability, combined with compassion and love of fellow man, allowed the Choctaw Nation to thrive despite the great adversity they faced.

I try to follow in my ancestors' footsteps by having my work begin from a place of compassion. My intent is to help small business owners find resiliency and develop strategy that allows them to adapt to change. I want to help members of my community overcome the struggles they face, restore their passion for their work, and develop the tools they need to not just survive dark times, but come out of it stronger.

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DH Solutions honors the many indigenous people who had their lives, land, and culture forcibly taken as well as those who were brought to this land against their will. I grieve for the lives that were lost across the Americas, for those separated from their land and ancestors, and those who continue to suffer. My path of healing is inspired by my ancestors' strength of spirit, astounding resiliency, and commitment to living with compassion for all people. I entreat my ancestors to guide me so my work will always be done in the Chahta spirit.
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