When Laguna Beach biologist Elisabeth Brown’s admirers describe her, they use the adjectives pragmatic, persuasive, sensitive, thoughtful and tenacious.
Having watched her quiet contributions over two decades, Brown’s supporters say the no-nonsense environmentalist has been skillful and effective in protecting the county’s natural resources.
Laguna Beach Mayor Paul Freeman calls himself “a big fan of hers.”
“Her signature can be found on many landmark agreements: the [Laguna] Canyon purchase, the Newport Coast,” Freeman said, referring to open space and land-use agreements that Brown helped negotiate. “She’s always been someone that everyone, friend and foe alike, likes to see around the table.”
Brown, 53, wears several hats. She is president of Laguna Greenbelt Inc., an organization formed to preserve open space; a member of the Coastal Greenbelt Authority, which governs the sprawling Laguna Coast Wilderness Park; and vice president of the Laguna Canyon Foundation, which raises money to buy and preserve undeveloped land.
In 1995, Brown received the Red Cross Clara Barton Award for her work on behalf of the environment.
“She has certainly been a devoted public servant in many areas for many years,” said Mary Fegraus, executive director of the Laguna Canyon Foundation and a colleague of Brown on the city’s Planning Commission during the 1980s.