Justin Brannan is an artist, small business owner and community activist. Born and raised in Bay Ridge, the son of a salesman and a Catholic school educator who shared an enthusiasm for the arts, Justin has worn many hats and has always followed his heart. A lifelong vegetarian, Justin got his start in politics as an animal welfare advocate in the early 1990’s.
After studying journalism at Fordham University and the College of Staten Island, Justin’s dreams led him to pursue a career as a professional touring musician. Performing in over fifty countries across five continents, his band’s album sales reached into the hundreds of thousands. Though their sound was raw, the music had a positive message with a focus on social justice, human rights, environmentalism, individuality and views against drugs, alcohol and promiscuous sex.
During a brief pit-stop as a radio announcer at the world famous WNEW, Justin served proudly as an AFTRA shop steward where he represented and defended the interests of his fellow employees and successfully advocated to get all union employees retroactively paid for decades of overtime work on weekends and overnights.
When the music stopped, his journey continued into venture capital where he successfully raised millions for a number of renewable energy startups based out of Silicon Valley. Always in a state of perpetual motion, Justin then followed his passion into the world of charitable giving as a fundraising consultant where he helped raise funds for a number of vibrant non-profit humanitarian organizations.
Justin is the co-founder of Bay Ridge Cares, a not-for-profithumanitarianorganization born in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. He is a former member of his local Community Board 10 and a former member of the board of directors of BRAVO, the Bay Ridge volunteer ambulance corps. Justin and his wife, Leigh, own The Art Room, a fine art school for children.
Justin has tackled many issues vital to the diverse resident of his community. He has organized rallies protesting the city’s closing of crucial firehouses and headed protests giving voice to those in favor of same-sex marriage. He has coordinated the energies of small business owners in support of more favorable legislation and practices by the city and stood with unions against corporate greed.
Today, Justin serves as the Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs for Councilman Vincent J. Gentile. In this role, Justin has helped draft and pass several pieces of important legislation including laws to increase access to NYC benefits, programs and services for veterans and laws protecting the unemployed from job discrimination. In addition, Justin helped oversee the creation of a citywide animal abuse registry and is considered one of a handful of people who helped make animal rights a hot-button topic in the 2013 race for New York City Mayor.
In each of these pursuits, Justin's identity has remained crystal clear: His “do-it-yourself” attitude, tireless work ethic and passion for the values he holds most dear—engaging with his community, helping as many people and touching as many lives as he can—is always evident. And he will continue to follow his passion in an effort to connect with and raise up those around him, no matter what shape his journey may take in the future.
New York City Department of Small Business Services "Helping Hand Award"
2013;City & State's NYC "40 Under 40" Rising Star 2012;
Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator "Brooklyn Rising Star" 2012.