“Serving others is important to me because of how others served me growing up,” said Kelley Perkins Brown ’94, this year’s Dum Vivimus Servimus Award recipient. The honor recognizes an alumnus or alumna who exemplifies the meaning of the College motto, “While We Live, We Serve.”
“I spent 10 years at the Thornwell Home and School for Children,” Brown continued, “and was served not only by the legacy left by Dr. Jacobs, who founded both Thornwell and PC, but also from those who worked there or donated their resources so that I could have food, clothing, shelter and education.
“Serving others through my professional life, church ministries, and volunteer work is something that I do to say “thank you” to God for putting people in my life at an early age.”
Brown went to live at the Thornwell Home for Children in 1980, when she was eight years old. When she graduated from high school in 1990, she went to live with Phil and Jeri Perkins, eventually being adopted by them in 1995.
Brown attended PC on a Quattlebaum Scholarship and graduated summa cum laude with a BA in political science in 1994. While at PC, Brown was an active member of the Westminster Fellowship, the Presbyterian student organization. She also had the opportunity to attend the General Assembly of the PC(USA) as a Youth Advisory Delegate from Trinity Presbytery.
The Perkins family moved to Aiken during her years at PC, when her mother served as the associate pastor for First Presbyterian Church of Aiken from 1993 to 1998. Her mother accepted another call in 1998, but Brown stayed in Aiken, having married almost life-long member Trey Brown in 1997.
Kelley was ordained as an elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Aiken in 1998. She has served the greater church as a member of several Presbytery committees, including Justice for Women and the Outdoor Ministry Division. She has also served as an elder commissioner to stated meetings of Trinity Presbytery, the Synod of South Atlantic, and to the 220th General Assembly of the PC(USA).
Locally, Kelley has served on numerous committees of First Presbyterian Church of Aiken. She currently serves on the Memorials Committee, as well as participating in the Handbell Choir and the Sanctuary Choir. She supports the children’s ministry by providing the Children’s Sermon on a rotating basis and serving as a head usher. In this role, she coordinates the elementary-aged children of the church to serve as ushers during her month. She received a Presbyterian Women’s Honorary Life Membership in 2018.
Kelley graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1997. She is a Deputy Public Defender for the 2nd Judicial Circuit (Aiken, Bamberg, and Barnwell counties), where she specializes in the defense of juvenile offenders. She serves on the South Carolina Bar Association’s Children’s Law Committee, the Juvenile Justice Committee for the South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and the Board for the South Carolina Public Defender Association.
The South Carolina Public Defender Association named Kelley the Lawyer of the Year in 2005 and the Juvenile Defender of the Year in 2016.
Kelley and Trey have been married for 22 years. They have two daughters, Katie and Carly. Kelley and Trey are currently surviving 8th and 5th grades along with their daughters at Mead Hall Episcopal School, where Brown serves as the Vice President of the Booster Club and as the Book Fair Coordinator for the PTO. Brown also serves as a co-leader for Girl Scout Troop 415 in Aiken.
Join Us for Homecoming!
Homecoming is Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19. Please join us in Edmunds Hall at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 19 for the Alumni Awards ceremony.
Please see 2019 Alumni Award Recipients for more about this year’s honorees.