Thinking globally, acting locally a way of life for Neil Brown


Editor’s Note: This October, we will celebrate our 30th class of 40 Under Forty honorees. Each week in 2022, The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia will highlight one of our 2021 40 Under Forty honorees leading up to the announcement of our milestone class this fall.

When Neil Brown says he’s motivated by sustainability, he’ll tell you in the next breath that he realizes how broad of a term that is. The concept of sustainability can be abstract to many people, but Brown is doing everything he can to help motivate those around him to create a more sustainable world.

Brown is an advanced chemical engineer at Eastman, where he focuses on life cycle assessment and the circular economy. In that role, he helps those around him understand the impact of products on the company’s carbon footprint and helps search for better alternatives. 

Fred Colhoun, a group leader at Eastman, noted how involved Brown has been in the company’s carbon renewal technology program as Eastman pursues its goals to reduce carbon emissions. “The extent of influence that Neil had in that process was extremely rare for an employee of his age and tenure,” Colhoun wrote. “Neil has continued to drive Eastman toward these goals and has developed into an expert in defining the role in which renewable energy can help Eastman meet its commitments.”

Before receiving his degree from the University of Tennessee, Brown graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School. Since his return to Kingsport, Brown has made an extraordinary effort to make sustainability a reality in his community. Brown is currently the chair of Keep Kingsport Beautiful and is working to expand the mission of the organization.

“I have been so lucky to get involved with Keep Kingsport Beautiful,” he said. “We’ve got our litter pickup and prevention, which is a very big part – historically and currently – of what KKB does. I’m trying to help broaden our scope a little bit and look at things like pollinator conservation.”

Brown has successfully created pollinator gardens in Kingsport and has plans to add more. A major goal moving forward is finding ways to expand on what he is already doing.

Vanessa Bennett, Executive Director of Operations and Talent Development for the Kingsport Chamber, got to know Brown when he completed the Leadership Kingsport class last year. Bennett noted in her letter of recommendation that Brown has managed to stay involved in his community throughout the pandemic.

“Neil has become an asset to our community by partnering with organizations, notably local elementary schools, to promote pollinator conservation,” Bennett wrote.

Brown doesn’t know exactly what his increased involvement in the community is going to look like, but finding ways to transform the abstract concept of sustainability into tangible action steps in Kingsport will be high on his list of priorities.

“I really want to get potentially even more involved in the community,” Brown said. “I don’t know exactly how that is going to work, but I’m just looking for ways to expand on that and make a bigger difference.”

Next week we will profile local entrepreneur Arnab Chakraborty. If you would like to nominate someone for inclusion in the 2022 class of 40 Under Forty, visit and follow the instructions.

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