Main content

Emory Law News Center


Daniel Zozaya Brown 22L pursues a road less traveled

Cassandra Maddox |

“My career path has not been straightforward,” Daniel Zozaya Brown 22L says. As a Robert W. Woodruff fellow, Daniel is pursuing his juris doctor from Emory University School of Law at 30 years old.

The program, established in 1980, recruits and rewards students with exceptional character, scholastic abilities, and leadership qualities. Read more about the Robert W. Woodruff Scholarship and Fellows Program here.

After graduating from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Daniel joined the Peace Corps and served in Ecuador assisting in the implementation of new educational policies.

“The Peace Corps was the ultimate opportunity for me to work in a rural community in a country that’s not my own,” Daniel explained. “It allowed me to see the potential for change where we have no resources and I learned that by being willing to help, actually committing time to understand people, there was a lot that could be achieved.”

Daniel says that his experience in the Peace Corps is what inspired him to pursue a master’s in public administration from the University of Missouri.

After, he worked in economic development for two years developing sustainable business initiatives and providing resources to low-income immigrant families to help them achieve economic independence.

“Through my work in economic and community development, I learned how I can help make existing resources more accessible to the people that should be receiving them,” Daniel says. Still, he wanted to do more.

So, he applied to Emory Law.

Daniel realized he could greatly affect economic development by focusing on helping neighborhoods in sustainable ways, but he needed to become well-versed in corporate law.

“In the United States,” he said, “the majority of the resources for those kinds of programs come from private companies. Some have dedicated branches to community and economic development, but there’s a need for individuals who understand both sides—the corporate jargon and the community development language.”

When Daniel visited Emory Law, he found like-minded faculty and students who felt the same. “Specifically, Professor Georgiev is really interested in this,” he says.  “He talks to us about how the corporate world is changing and how, more and more, companies are starting to talk about sustainable investments geared at community development.”

Daniel’s passion for public service in economic development is rooted in his upbringing.

“As a dual citizen, I was brought up to think of myself as having a dual identity,” he says. His mom, born in the U.S., met his father, born in Mexico, at the university where he was studying to become a doctor.

“My sister and I grew up with two different cultures and we spoke two different languages at home,” he says. Daniel was born and raised in Yucatan, Mexico where the wealth of the state is concentrated in the city while the communities outside of the city live in poverty.

“We were really encouraged by my mom, who was always very engaged in the community, to volunteer,” he explained. With his church, he delivered food baskets to rural communities nearby; and with his mother, he volunteered at an orphanage. 

“When you go and volunteer in Mexico in an impoverished area, you really see poverty at a whole different level,” he says. “I think that really opened my eyes and allowed me to engage with my own privilege. I knew that I needed to take advantage of every possibility that I have so that I can one day do as much as I can to help alleviate the issues I see and care about in impoverished communities.”

At Emory Law, he’s found a place where conversations around economic development are thoughtful and frequent. “It’s cool to see something that you care about discussed in these academic circles and start to become a priority topic of research and discussion,” he says. “I’m definitely at the right place.”