Bay Ridge

Brannan wins Brotherhood Award from P.S.-I.S. 104

February 16, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Justin Brannan accepts his plaque from P.T.A. Recording Secretary Kendra Watson, P.T.A. Co-Presidents Jade Roots La Croix and Sophia Koutouzis, and Principal Maria DiBella (left to right). Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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Justin Brannan was a professional musician for more than a decade, touring the world with his rock bands Indecision and Most Precious Blood. When he decided to come home to Bay Ridge, the neighborhood he grew up in, and settle down with his wife Leigh Holliday Brannan, he also made another key decision.

“I decided to get involved in my community,” he recalled.

Brannan joined the Bay Ridge Ambulance Volunteer Organization (BRAVO) and served on its board of directors for a number of years. He founded Bay Ridge Cares, a nonprofit organization that cooked and delivered more than 25,000 hot meals to Superstorm Sandy victims and emergency responders in the aftermath of the hurricane. Brannan is also politically active, serving as a leader of the Bay Ridge Democrats, a political club he helped organize.

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On Feb. 11, Brannan, who currently works as a special assistant to City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, was honored for his community-minded activities by the PTA of P.S./I.S. 104 in Bay Ridge, which presented him with its annual International Brotherhood Award.

PTA Co-President Jade Root La Croix praised Brannan’s “do it yourself attitude” and lauded his ability to “raise up those around him.”

Principal Maria DiBella, PTA Co-President Sophia Koutouzis and PTA Recording Secretary Kendra Watson joined Root La Croix in handing the award to Brannan. The plaque was presented during an assembly attended by hundreds of students at the school at 9115 Fifth Ave.

Brannan was genuinely touched by the tribute. “This is really so cool! It means so much to me,” he said.

Brannan, a former communications director for Councilmember Vincent Gentile, gave the students some handy career advice. “If you can find a job where you’re helping people and you love what you do, there’s nothing better,” he said. “The impact that we make on people is really what matters.”

Brannan is also co-owner, along with his wife Leigh Holliday Brannan and his mother Mary Brannan, of The Art Room, an art gallery-school on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge.

Holliday Brannan was on hand at P.S./I.S. 104 for her husband’s big moment. Other attendees included Laurie Windsor, president of the School District 20 Community Education Council; Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10; and Jane Kelly, parliamentarian of the Bay Ridge Community Council.

The International Brotherhood Award dates back to the 1950s, when the PTA was known as the Mothers Club, DiBella said.

Prior to the award presentation, the audience was treated to a performance by Class 2-107, which illustrated the important roles that people in different professions play to help keep a community vibrant and strong. Called “Friendly Neighborhood Helpers,” the show featured second grade students dressed as cops, firefighters, librarians, doctors, mail carriers, dentists, sanitation workers, school crossing guards and teachers talking about their jobs and singing songs.

The children were directed by teachers Kimberly Fraser and Kristen Farley.

“As you can see, it takes a lot of people to keep our community safe,” one of the students told the audience.

The show ended with a photo montage of the children with real-life cops and doctors, among other professionals.

Brannan loved every minute of it. During his remarks, he engaged the young performers, asking them if any had any ideas on what they wanted to be when they grew up. A couple of the boys said they wanted to be firefighters.

Brannan called the award ceremony “the most amazing thing I have ever been a part of.”

PTA members served tea, finger sandwiches, fresh fruit and homemade brownies to Brannan and his guests in the cafeteria after the show.


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