Family has always played a key role for Diane Brown --just ask her co-workers and clients. Familiarity and comfort helped lure Brown away from a budding career with the Ford Motor Company --where the continued stress of gridlock-choked commutes along the interstates of Detroit were taking their toll. “All of a sudden Habersham County started looking really good,” Brown said. And so began a journey home that has provided countless homeowners and agents with a family outside of their own, as the warm-hearted Brown threw herself into her new career with Norton Agency. Brown made it back to her hometown of Clarkesville, Ga, and cannot now imagine a better setting for a fulfilling life. “I enjoyed what I was doing before I got into this, but I didn’t have my soul in it,” Brown said. “When I began working in real estate here in Habersham, I threw myself into it and really became a part of the community. ”Brown became part of what she calls a “family” at the Norton Agency when she joined as a partner/broker in 1989. Now Brown ensures that familiarity and trust is passed down to her own agents and clients with Norton Mountain Properties. “(Norton Agency Director) Frank (Norton) is like a brother to me; we have kind of grown up in business together,” Brown said. “And my agents become more than employees. I say they work with me, not for me. You become involved in every aspect of their lives, personally and in business. And you hope that you become better just by being associated with each other.” Brown takes pride in cultivating an atmosphere in which agents, homeowners and potential homeowners work together toward a common goal --something that comes naturally to the mother of three and grand-mother of nine.. “My satisfaction comes in fulfilling peoples needs; you see where someone is and where they want to go, and you help them each step of the way,” said Brown, who has been aiding those in the Habersham real estate market since 1986. It is far from where she saw her destiny upon graduation from North Habersham High School in 1966, how-ever. “I went to the University of Georgia and though I’d never return,” said Brown, who graduated from the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications. “I had visions of doing big things in big cities.” But Brown found those dreams eventually leading her away from big places, and back to the area where her family has lived since the 1800s, initially going into the insurance business with her father before striking out into real estate and eventually joining forces with the Norton Agency. “For northeast Georgia it’s a very large company, but compared to Ford it’s quite small, and the protocol here is much simpler,” Brown said of the Norton Agency. “There are incentives to listen to other people’s opinions and make everyone else stronger.” And that’s how Brown sees her job with Norton --part “cheerleader” for her agents, part director --helping all involved to realize their dreams --much as she did upon her return from Detroit. “I’ve been through the thick and thin in this business, but I just love seeing people reach their goals,” Brown said.