Doctor of Humane Letters
Delores Francene Brisbon

Mrs. Delores Brisbon wrote in her memoir, A Privileged Life: Remembering My Journey, “What I do is who I am - my character and work are intertwined.” She describes her faith in God as “ every aspect of my life,” highlighting “my love for my family, my relationships and work.” Across 85 years, Mrs. Brisbon has lived out that faith through balanced intentionality, focus, and a purpose to serve family and the church through her relationships and her service.Mrs. Brisbon was born in rural Jacksonville, Florida, where she learned that family (both genetic relationships and those that are spiritual, born out of mutuality and love) is the foundation of a quality life. As a wife, mother, grandmother, and mentor to more than 25 younger people, she offers the wisdom gifted to her from God in order to help others become their best selves.

Mrs. Brisbon was appointed the first black head nurse at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) in the midst of the civil rights movement. In 1979, she was the first black woman to be named a Chief Operating Officer of an Ivy League hospital in the United States where she successfully managed an expense budget of just under $300 million, inclusive of 4,000 employees and 700 physicians, and guided the construction of $196 million worth of new and renovated buildings. She credits her spiritual gifts as the guiding force behind her career advancement.

When Mrs. Brisbon retired from HUP, she founded a consultant business staffed by her children and continued serving the Boards of organizations whose missions emphasized human services, collaborating with 40 different organizations over a 30-year period.

Mrs. Brisbon has served the church her entire life, including 35 years at Monumental Baptist Church and 15 as Chair of the Board of Trustees. She then served Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church for eight years where she established a foundation and raised $1.8 million to restore the bell tower of this treasured Black church. Currently, she is a Ruling Elder in the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and has led committees in Christian Education, Nominations, and Personnel.

Since 2004, Mrs. Brisbon has served as a Governance Mentor with In Trust Center for Theological Schools, which in 2013 led to her first engagement with Hood Seminary as one of the six historically black seminaries to receive a Lilly Endowment grant. Her current service is in advising these schools to strengthen fundraising capacity.

Mrs. Brisbon has been honored by over 100 organizations for her service including the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Tribune, Ebony Magazine, and Essence Magazine and has been designated a History Maker. Of her many years of service, Mrs. Brisbon says, “To God be the Glory.”

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