Bill Brown is a mapping pioneer who went from paper boy to director of the Defense Mapping Agency Aerospace Center, a predecessor organization of NGA. Brown grew up in Kansas City, where he delivered newspapers, plucked chickens, and cleared tables at a local restaurant, to earn money, most of which went into a college savings account.
He attended Kansas State University where he earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics. He was one of six Black American students out of a total student population of 25,000. Brown began his federal career in 1962, coming to the Aerospace Center when it was known as the U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Chart and Information Center. He rose from cartographer, to supervisor, to administrator, to eventually take DMA into the 21st century. Mr. Brown was the first Black director of the Defense Mapping Agency Aerospace Center in St. Louis. In 1992, he was awarded the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award.