Brandon L. McGee, Jr. is a political contriver, public speaker, and the founder of SPEAK Consulting, a boutique firm which specializes in an innovative tier program that offers training and collaborative development, strategic planning and leadership and organizational development.
A native of Hartford, McGee is Urban Alliance’s Director of Network Development, and holds his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Alabama State University and Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership from Albertus Magnus College. McGee is a firm advocate for equity in education and is committed to creating progressive processes that skillfully marries standard grassroots techniques with the art of relating to people on basic levels.
McGee has also been actively involved in the political arena. He currently serves as the Representative for the 5th District in the ConnecticutState Assembly.
Charles Clark: Thank you for taking out the time to do this interview.
Brandon McGee, Jr.: Thank you for reaching out!
CC: Who is Brandon McGee?
BM: Brandon L. McGee, Jr. is a political contriver, public speaker, an advocate for education and mentor to many young men .
CC: I’ve read about you, the first question that came was, what was the epiphany that made you want to spend your existence giving back to your community?
BM: I can remember as young boy watching documentaries on Dr. King, meeting local elected officials from Connecticut such as Sen. Eric Coleman and others that had such a profound impact on me and saying to myself, “I want to be just like them when I grow up.” Now if you would have asked me then, why do you want to become an elected official or someone that appeared to be helping others? Those men and women really provided me with real-time examples by being active in the community, mentoring young people and exhibited community pride everywhere they went. They were just well rounded folks trying to make a difference for their constituency — they also lived, shopped and dined in the neighborhood where I lived.
CC: If you only pay attention to mainstream media, you don’t see many young men in leadership positions like we did let’s say in the 1960’s. Do you believe that’s an accurate assumption?
BM: I do agree with your observation, partially. I believe that somewhere out there among the grass-root leaders and unspoken of community stakeholders championing change in their neighborhoods. Particularly, young men in leadership. Mainstream media for the most part adopted a not so friendly business mentality I call, “in-it to-win-IT.” Make money! That said, many unsung heroes that happen to be young men in leadership, especially men of color are drowned out by the negative stories of what will sell and not stories like mine and countless others. We need more printed and online publications such as, Brotha Magazine to exist! Also, I am aware that we as a community need to do a better job supporting publications such as Brotha Magazines too!
CC: What made you want to run for the Connecticut State Assembly?
BM: Overall, my passion to serve and represent the under-represented, my concern regarding inequalities in school districts/ the achievement gap, lack of men of color in leadership (political arena) and the impact policy has on just about everything we engage in as citizens.
CC: How do you juggle working full-time, being a State Rep, church, community activities, etc. my Brotha?
BM: LOL – some days, I ask this very question??? On a serious note, there are several moving pieces to consider that has helped me juggle all my responsibilities; 1. identify your passion and area of focus/what drives you 2.) time management 3.) being fully aware of your areas of focus, leverage those activities. Do not over extend yourself.
CC: What is a typical day like for you? I know here in NY the legislative session is suppose to last from January to April. What about Connecticut?
BM: My day starts at 5:30AM everyday – and 7AM on Sunday. Legislative session runs from Jan to May (long session) or Feb to June (short session). During those times my schedule is pretty hectic – managing a full-time job, meeting the demands of constituents, spending time with my wife and family members…..church… the list goes on.
CC: With all the work you do with other organizations, how can we better invest in our young black men?
BM: As an active member of the Beta Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., I am constantly giving back to young men through existing programs. I have also created an initiative called, Black Male Defined. Black Male Defined, is a time for thoughtful and creative Black men from different walks of life to discuss what it would really take to transform the negative perceptions of Black males in today’s culture, in today’s society and to answer the question, “Is it really worth it?
Here’s a short YouTube video of Black Male Defined: http://youtu.be/pcpBcMyXung
CC: We seem to be islands unto ourselves, even in education has shifted to collaboration or the “team” approach to problem solving to attain the “best practices”. Are collaborations key?
BM: Collaboration is critical. With limited resources and an ever growing need of support to families and youth – we need folks working together. Collaborative work efforts around shared goals align perfectly when organizational egos are let go and focus is on how best can we help those in need. Collaboration and other Initiatives provide road-maps fororganizations, volunteers, donors and community advocates to work together to addressneeds.
CC: What’s next for Brandon McGee?
BM: Get as many people registered to vote. However, emphasizing that voting is NOT enough. We have to go beyond the vote — engagement around issues impacting lives of thousands. Also, at some point I would like to run for President of the United States, prior to that major effort, I have always consider running for Mayor for the City of Hartford, CT.