“When you have love for something, the work you put in will lead to the greatest ROI.”
Brandon V. Ray, Long Island regional director for external and legislative affairs for AT&T began as a National Urban League (NUL) intern for President Marc Morial in 2004. He attended an NUL Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP) conference and he used his innate drive and ambition to reach out to Wanda Jackson, NUL senior vice president of human resources. Jackson helped Ray to secure an internship at NUL headquarters. Ray worked hard and made positive impressions, allowing him to leave the internship fully employed. Ray remained active with the Movement and in his community. He was elected vice president of the Urban League Long Island Young Professionals (ULLIYP) chapter in 2004. In 2009, he was appointed to the Hempstead (NY) Union Free School District Board of Education and he was elected to serve another term in 2010. Ray was a thriving young professional building his career and serving his community. Then, the recession hit.
Life quickly took a turn for Ray, but he remained committed to serve. He was raised to be civically active and he credits NUL with helping him to access private sector executives. Shortly before the National Urban League conference in Boston in 2011, Ray supported his NULYP chapters members as they prepared to represent for Long Island. However, he wasn’t planning to attend. That is where the NUL family began to step in. “She TOLD me to go,” Ray recalled one of his chapter members persuading him to attend the conference and assuring him that the logistics would work out. After some convincing, Ray headed to Boston as one of 12 attendees from the ULLIYP chapter, with $12 in his pocket. He was also well equipped with “authentic relationships, faith and hope.” The Movement rallied to make sure he could experience the full conference. “I was received with so much love” by the Eastern Massachusetts Young Professionals, said Ray. He was committed to maintaining a professional presence and being a full participant and contributor to the business, advocacy and service components of the conference.
Ray continued in his spirit of service and paid this overwhelming support forward by volunteering for a community service project during the conference. While volunteering, he connected with the then director of external affairs for AT&T in New York. This connection led to Ray advocating for the NUL Long Island affiliate. He coordinated a $5000 donation from AT&T to his affiliate – the first of many donations and community relations projects between the AT&T and the Urban League of Long Island. Ray continued to connect AT&T with local non-profits and elected officials, which in 2013 led Ray to earn the newly created role he still holds today. AT&T continues to be a strong partner of the National Urban League.
Ray has continued to grow, make connections, and rise through the ranks at AT&T. As of April 1, 2019, he celebrated six years with the company. He has built an award-winning career, and a life, all stemming from lasting connections made through NUL and NULYP. Ray went on to graduate in the first cohort of NUL Emerging Leaders. Ray also met his now wife one month after returning from the NUL conference in Boston. They met at a YP meeting shortly after she relocated to Long Island from Miami. Ray was a YP who “came in only with the intention to serve, but in turn received blessing on blessing.”
“This Movement has been good to me.”
-by Erica Southerland, Ph.D.