Unsung Heroes 2015: Amy Fenster Brown

Lisa Mandel
Amy Fenster Brown at home with her husband, Jeff, and their sons, Davis and Leo. Photo: Lisa Mandel 


Amy Fenster Brown’s reaction when she learned she was to be honored as an Unsung Hero was this: “Who would be delusional enough to nominate me?”

She found out soon enough: Jennifer Deutsch, Fenster Brown’s best friend since first grade, and Jenny Abeles, a close friend Fenster Brown met as an adult while volunteering with the National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis Section. 

“So many people have volunteered for so many years, people who do much more than I do,” Fenster Brown said. “I am blown away that they would think to nominate me, and this just may be the nicest thing anyone has ever done.”

In her nomination letter, Abeles wrote, “Amy Fenster Brown is an extremely talented individual who devotes a tremendous amount of time to her community, whether she is volunteering, helping organizations with their communication plans or sharing her love of desserts.” 

Fenster Brown willingly owned up to all that. “OK, I have served on committees, co-chaired projects and fundraisers and have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for nonprofits. But selfishly, it’s fun, a way to do something social with friends,” Fenster Brown said. 

“Of course, you’re not just going to lunch — you’re working on a project,” she continued. “Volunteer work is catered to what you’re good at and what you like, and my strength is getting publicity.” Fenster Brown does know her way around the media — she spent 14 years working in local television news at Channels 30, 4 and 5 and garnered nine Emmy nominations.

Organizations that have benefited from Fenster Brown’s expertise include NCJW, the Young Professionals Division of the St. Louis Jewish Federation, West County Day School, J Associates, Congregation Temple Israel, the Josie Foundation, Highcroft Ridge Elementary School, AMC Cancer Research Center, the Judevine Center, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Toys for Tots. 

For the NCJW, in the past decade Fenster Brown has served on the board, co-chaired Trivia Night, chaired the publicity effort for the Back-to-School! Store, co-chaired the national convention in St. Louis and served on the nominating committee. She has served on the YPD board. For J Associates, she has co-chaired the annual luncheon and co-chaired publicity for Dancing in the Loop. She has served on Temple Israel’s board and also co-chaired the prayer book fund. 

Fenster Brown emphasized that a group effort is required to help nonprofit organizations. “I’m just a little piece of it, but being part of the machine is a good feeling,” she said.  “When I find out the dollar amount we’re going for, I am pumped.” When others talk about the color of the napkins needed for an event though, Fenster Brown says she just sits still. “I’m only passionate about the green – the money that will roll in.”

Volunteering has always been part of her life. “My mom, Marge Fenster, volunteered at my school and our synagogue, and currently volunteers for NORC and the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center,” Fenster Brown said. “I started volunteering with the YPD when I was in my 20s. That’s when I first found out how much I liked doing good while being social.”

Eleven years ago, at a happy hour for a fundraising event, Fenster Brown met the man she would marry. “How Jewish is that,” she said, laughing. Jeff Brown is a logistics systems information specialist for Boeing. “Jeff volunteers, too,” Fenster Brown said. “Talking about all this reminds me I must tell him how much I appreciate him. He literally affords me the opportunity to work three days a week and have a couple days to do volunteer work, be active at the kids’ school and do fun stuff with our boys, Davis and Leo.” 

As the owner of Brown Sugar Baking, Fenster Brown also makes time to bake gluten-free treats. “It started out as a hobby, part of my quest to be the perfect wife and mother, at which I was failing miserably,” she said, laughing again. “Now people that I know buy desserts from me because there is always a gluten-free kid or guest at every event.”

Abeles’ nomination letter made a final point about why so many people have come to value Fenster Brown. “Her involvement goes way beyond her official positions within an organization,” Abeles said. “Everyone knows they can call Amy when they are in a pinch and need help. Everyone knows they can count on her.”

What does this generous, out-going, good-hearted woman think of that? 

“Actually, I am really humbled,” Fenster Brown said, “and even feeling a little shy.”

Amy Fenster Brown 

Age: 45

Home: Chesterfield

Family: Married to Jeff Brown. 

Two sons, ages 8 and 9. 

Occupation: Circulation manager for St. Louis Bride Magazine

Fun Fact: Amy bakes gluten-free treats for family and for friends’ special events