Spotlight on…Matt Bralove

Date: May 28, 2015

Tell me about one of your favorite moments with Emerging Leaders United.
My favorite ELU moment took place last fall gleaning produce at First Fruits Farm. This was a family-friendly event, where several of us helped harvest healthy food to help fill local food banks. I brought my wife, Wendy, and son, Ian, to help harvest. Giving back to those in need is a great feeling. However, this feeling is trumped by the feeling of getting my family involved in giving back. There is no better way to spend a morning than standing side by side with my family and working hard to help those who deserve access to healthy food.

What was your very first ELU event?
The 2014 Young Professionals Conference was my first event and it was a true experience. My firm registered eight of us for the conference and none of us had any prior exposure to ELU. I can’t speak for the other seven but I knew I was in the right place as soon as I walked in the door. To say there was a positive energy in the room would be an understatement. I couldn’t walk more than a few feet at a time without being greeted by smiling faces, friendly handshakes and warm hellos. I had been searching for an organization that would allow me to grow personally while helping to better my community. There was no doubt that ELU was going to be my “home away from home” for a long time to come.

What advice would you share with other emerging leaders?
It may sound simple but my advice is to simply start by finding an event that interests you and just show up. Great things happen when you fill a room with inspired people. We are all leaders in our own way. Some of us are outgoing and others are a bit reserved. Some are great with thinking big and others are better in the details. You don’t need to reinvent yourself to be part of ELU, you just need to be yourself and be here.

Who has been an inspiration to you and how have they inspired you?
My father, Bill, is my biggest inspiration and has been my entire life. I describe my father as a “voice for those without their own voices.” My father has faced challenges that would cause most people to give up. Instead of giving up, he made a choice to give back. My biggest take-away? Job titles and salary don’t define a person. Instead, a person is defined by his or her commitment to their family, friends and community. You don’t need to be wealthy to be a treasure to those around you.

If you won a million dollars, what would be the first thing you would do with the money?
Perhaps it is the tax accountant in me, but the first thing I would do after winning a million dollars would be to put it into savings just like it was a normal paycheck. Yes, I have a long list of charitable giving I would like to do with the money but I understand the value of patience and proper planning. In looking at the people United Way helps to serve, I realize that our position in life can change very quickly. Often times these changes occur from circumstances outside of our immediate control (medical issues, loss of a job, lack of access to healthy options). Whether it be a million dollars or a hundred dollars – proper planning helps create stability.

Your own thoughts, ideas and/or anything you want to share?
It may sound unusual coming from a complete stranger but I’d like to say thank you. Thank you to our ELU and United Way volunteers. Thank you to those outside of our organization who are making a difference in the lives of others. Often times, whether it be at home or a work, we focus on the negative. I’m a firm believer of paying it forward. So, please continue to do the great work that each of you do. Your efforts are noticed and appreciated!

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