Brownlees awarded 2018 Sterling College Alumni Award

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Phil ‘85 and Laila Brownlee ’85 were awarded the Sterling College Alumni Award on Oct. 5, for their continual dedication to the College and their lifetime of service to the community. Presented at the Alumni Banquet and Award Ceremony, the Brownlees were celebrated along with Distinguished Service Award winner Paul Buchanan ’53 and Young Alumni Award winner Jonathon Federwiesch ’05.

After graduating from Sterling College, Phil would go on to work as a certified public accountant at a large CPA firm in Dallas. He then worked five years at SC as public information director and head coach of the men’s and women’s tennis teams. He left Sterling and got a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Kansas. He then worked 21 years at the Wichita Eagle, including 16 years as the editor of the editorial page. In 2017 Phil became the executive director of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, the largest county medical society in Kansas. In addition to directing the operations of the Medical Society, he oversees four companies affiliated with the Medical Society and serves on several boards of directors.

Laila earned her degree in English and secondary education. During the years they lived in Dallas, she taught English in a large urban middle school. After their move back to Kansas, she worked at Sterling College as Office Manager for the Advancement department before returning to teaching at Sterling High School. During the next ten years, she worked for a regional school service center, helping to support and train school staff on software and helping to administrate a large multi-state grant to support education for migrant youth.

It was this experience with migrant education that gave her a passion for students from other countries. She obtained her master’s degree from Newman University and during the past eight years in the Wichita Public Schools, she has taught students from no fewer than 40 countries. She now volunteers her time to assist families in the refugee community as they work to get established in a new country.

“We are grateful for the opportunity Sterling gave us and the dedicated staff and faculty here who really work hard to find a way to help students as they move forward in the next step of their lives,” Laila Brownlee said.  Phil and Laila have two children: Lewis, age 22, and Elaina, age 21. They are involved in their local church and community in Wichita where they reside.
The Alumni Award is presented annually to alumni who graduated more than 15 years ago and who has demonstrated sustained excellence in career, service to others and loyalty to Sterling College. The recipient or recipients are chosen by vote of the Alumni Council and Sterling College’s Board of Trustees.

Sterling College is a Christ-centered, four-year college located in Sterling, Kansas, with a mission to develop creative and thoughtful leaders who understand a maturing Christian faith. For more information, visit