Mohegans elect retired Army colonel chairman

New Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown poses with a sculpture of his great-grandfather Chief Matahga, at the tribe's government offices Monday.
New Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown poses with a sculpture of his great-grandfather Chief Matahga, at the tribe's government offices Monday. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

Mohegan - Kevin Brown, a Montville native with a 24-year Army career behind him, was elected Monday to lead the Mohegan Tribal Council, which oversees the nearly 2,000-member tribe and its multistate gaming enterprises.

Brown took an oath of office as a council member during a private ceremony at the Mohegan Church and was then elected chairman in a vote of the nine-member body. He replaces Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum as chairman.

"I've lived a life of public service. It's in my DNA," Brown, 48, said in a phone interview. "To transition from a lifetime of service in the military to another opportunity to serve at home, with my family - it doesn't get any better than that."

Tribal members had elected Brown to the council in August.

Brown said he and Bozsum walked around the tribe's Mohegan Sun casino together in a demonstration of continuity in Mohegan leadership. He said he envisions no new gaming projects beyond those already planned. Bozsum was chairman since 2010 and from 2005 to 2009.

"We'll continue to sail this boat in the direction it's been sailing," Brown said.

In addition to Mohegan Sun, the tribe's Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority operates Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and manages Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Mohegan Sun plans to launch a $50 million retail expansion by year's end, and the MTGA is involved in casino projects proposed in Massachusetts, New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

Brown retired from the Army as a colonel in 2011. He compared his role in his last assignment - garrison commander of Fort Riley, Kan. - to leading the tribe and its business enterprises.

"When you serve as a garrison commander, you're essentially the city manager for a community of 55,000 people," he said. "Every day you help manage the decision-making, the planning, the strategic thinking in such areas as health and human services, housing, emergency planning. That's what I did for that community and that's what I will do here.

"There, I was an army of one; here, I'm nested inside a council of nine people."

Brown said he has no specific experience in the gaming realm but was confident he "need only look to the left and to the right" for help in areas "where I have any deficit in knowledge."

Following his Army retirement, Brown pursued a doctorate in security studies at Kansas State University. He also worked as a business consultant for the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, helping small, Indian-owned businesses find opportunities. He moved back to Connecticut last week.

Brown graduated in 1983 from Montville High School, where he said his "claim to fame" as a football player was playing alongside Doug and Gary DuBose, brothers who continued their careers in college and, in Doug's case, the NFL.

Brown graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1987.

His mother, Pauline Brown, is a Mohegan "nonner," a title bestowed on revered female members of the tribe. His brother, Mark Brown, has been a member of the tribal council since 1995 and was chairman from 2000 to 2005. The brothers are great-grandsons of the tribe's renowned Chief Matahga.

"I cannot tell you how important it was to me to stand with my family and friends at Mohegan Church today," Kevin Brown said. "It's the closeness, the culture, the family, the friends that matter. It's not about a hotel or a new license."

In addition to the Browns and Bozsum, the other councilors are James Gessner Jr., vice chairman; Cheryl Todd, recording secretary; Kathy Regan-Pyne, corresponding secretary; Thayne Hutchins Jr., treasurer; Bill Quidgeon and Mark Sperry.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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