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Million Dollar Mission

Updated: Feb 6

Legacy gift from John Swinton Brown Jr. ensures world-class education, patient care and research for our Borderplex community

El Paso native John Swinton Brown Jr. has donated $1 million to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. This generous gift will help to strengthen and grow the university and benefit a new generation of professionals committed to world-class health care.

As a university built on philanthropy, Brown's legacy gift allows TTUHSC El Paso to fulfill its commitment to providing a healthy future for our Borderplex region.

Brown's investment will go a long way toward relieving the region's critical provider shortage. It will deliver vital support to aspiring medical professionals to advance their education, skills and research. Health care providers will be more likely to remain in the region, providing access to preventative and specialty care right here at home. In doing so, the gift will foster a self-renewing pipeline of qualified health care heroes committed to serving our community.

Gene Wolf, an estate planning attorney with the El Paso law firm Kemp Smith and a member of the university's President's Development Council, served as one of the advisors who provided Brown with the idea for a legacy gift.

Cervantes Family of El Paso
John Brown is presented with a gift from TTUHSC El Paso by Gene Wolf.

“John Brown grew up in El Paso and has always been passionate about making a tangible difference in his community,” Wolf said. “When we considered the critical health care needs of our Borderplex region and the role that Texas Tech Health El Paso plays in addressing those challenges, John knew that his gift would be a wise investment in his hometown. This legacy gift not only serves immediate community needs but also acts as a catalyst for systemic change, improving health care access and education for generations to come.”

Born in El Paso in 1949, Brown’s support for our Borderplex community and its institutions came naturally. His father, John Swinton Brown Sr., owned an El Paso-based interstate plumbing and heating corporation that notably served as a contractor to the Manhattan Project during World War II. He passed away in 1967. Brown’s mother, Grace Messenger, was an active participant in several El Paso philanthropic organizations, including the Woman's Department of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, Planned Parenthood, the ASPCA and the El Paso County Humane Society.

While Brown now resides in Arizona, his enduring connection to his hometown of El Paso remains unbroken. The roots of Brown's philanthropy can be traced back to his mother's participation in various El Paso organizations, an influence that led him to sustain her philanthropic pursuits after her passing in 1997.

This passion for helping others culminated in his focus on health care causes, with TTUHSC El Paso emerging as a natural beneficiary. His legacy gift, therefore, serves as a bridge connecting his mother's charitable work, his own dedication to health care advancement and the students who will subsequently serve the El Paso community by providing world-class patient care and enriching the region’s well-being.

Paying Dividends to the Community

Legacy gifts create limitless possibilities. By ensuring long-term financial stability through a reliable source of income, they allow for strategic planning and resilience regardless of economic conditions. These planned donations also enhance educational quality and facilitate cutting-edge research. They not only advance the university’s mission but also generate broader societal benefits by addressing the region’s provider shortage while increasing health care access.

“Legacy gifts like John Brown's pay dividends for our community well into the future,” said Andrea Tawney, Ph.D., vice president for Institutional Advancement at TTUHSC El Paso. “They’re a catalyst for transformative change in creating access to world-class education and patient care right here at home. In places like our Borderplex, where we’re growing the health care infrastructure to support the needs of our diverse region, John’s gift is an enduring investment in our students, their families and the patients they'll serve in the future.”

Dr. Tawney said this gift would not be possible without the vision and collaboration of the President’s Development Council members.

“Advisors like Gene Wolf who serve on our President’s Development Council see the impact firsthand and inspire fellow donors to contribute in meaningful ways,” Dr. Tawney said. “We’re grateful for John and Gene for having the vision to invest in the future of our campus and growth of our community.”

Legacy gifts make a difference. Carolina Najera, a fourth-year student at the Foster School of Medicine and a native of El Paso, was motivated to pursue a career in medicine by her father, who lives with a disability. As a young child, when she expressed her desire to find a cure for him, he encouraged her to set her sights on medical school.

A scholarship recipient, Najera sees the impact of gifts from individuals like Brown each semester.

“Donors are a lifesaver,” said Najera. “I’m so grateful to everyone in the community who gives back and invests in the students and programs at TTUHSC El Paso that are transforming our region. Their support allows me to focus on my studies and become the best doctor I can be.”

Legacy gifts not only help reduce the financial burden on students but also promote compassionate care and service to our community and our patients.

El Paso native Victor M. Vasquez Jr., a first-year Foster School of Medicine student, plans to stay in the area after completing his medical degree in 2027. Support from donors played a crucial role in his decision to become a physician after completing his master’s degree at the Francis Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

“Gifts from community leaders help tremendously,” said Vasquez. “I think one of the more rewarding aspects of being a physician when I graduate will be the opportunity to pay it forward like they have. What I give will come back to me.”

Through his legacy gift to TTUHSC El Paso, Brown will make an impact on our Borderplex region for future generations. Similar contributions from others can further strengthen access to health care providers in the area.


For information on how to make a legacy gift to TTUHSC El Paso, please contact Andrea Tawney at 915-215-5695 or



Help transform health care in our community and beyond by making a gift to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. CLICK HERE to learn how to give.

At TTUHSC El Paso, we are committed to growing our own health care heroes and changing the state of health care in our Borderplex. For more information about how you can help, please contact or or visit


Original Article: TECH TALK - NOV. 28, 2023


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