Alum dies in accident

A former flag football coach and alumnus died in Beijing after falling from a rock climbing wall in June and suffering a head injury.

Mike Brownstein ’99 was the vice president of Foreign Capital Markets for Zhongzhi Enterprise Group, a major diversified financial and real estate development company in China.

Brownstein had climbed the wall when he fell approximately 13 feet. His body hit the safety mat, but his unprotected head missed the foam padding and hit the concrete. Brownstein survived surgery, but on June 20, he died after his lung became infected. Over 400 people attended Brownstein’s memorial at Hillside Memorial Park.

Brownstein played a number of small roles in school plays.  After graduating from Princeton, he did some modeling before deciding to try professional acting.

He enrolled in Walch Acting Workshop, run by Performing Arts department head Ted Walch and Performing Arts teacher Chris Moore. Walch described Brownstein as a classroom favorite who consistently took on tougher roles. He also remembered Brownstein as a people person.
“Mike was without question one of the just plain nicest guys you could know,” Walch said.

As a senior, Brownstein was the defensive coordinator for the eighth grade football team.  Chief Financial Officer Rob Levin coached him in flag football and remembered him working wonderfully with younger kids. At Princeton, Brownstein majored in comparative literature and was a member of the rugby team, the University Cottage Club and the Kappa Alpha Fraternity.  He traveled to Europe, China, India, Mexico and Australia, and was fluent in Spanish and conversant in Chinese, French and Italian.

Danny Seo ’96 also worked in China, and became a lot closer to Brownstein there. Brownstein and Seo had talked about going back to business school to get master’s degrees.   

“You really felt his energy when you were with him,” Seo said. “His perspective in life was so broad; he could really understand a vast array of people.”

The Brownstein Fellowship Program was established in his memory. Donations can be made to the fellowship at