New Staff Feature: Brandy Bynum, “Catalyst for Change”
Brandy Bynum, Associate Director at Rural Forward NC, has a strong connection with the Tier 1 counties in which she works: she was born and raised in a neighboring Tier 1 county, Northampton County. Brandy attended public schools growing up and especially enjoyed her creative writing and English classes, “because I got to talk a lot,” she says.
Brandy was also a driver for her school’s electric vehicle team, and raced electric cars across the country. She raced wearing big overall suits, and says when she beat the guys she’d “take my hat off and say ‘you got beat by a girl!” Brandy describes herself as being passionate, inquisitive, content, and strong-willed. “Once I set my sights on something, I can’t really put it down,” she says.
Brandy attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for her undergraduate degree, where she studied psychology and sociology. She realized that, rather than working one-on-one with individuals, she was more interested in helping spur societal change. This led her into public policy, first through pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration at N.C. State. Brandy says that as soon as she started the program she knew that policy work was exactly what she wanted to do.
During her Master’s program Brandy interned at NC Child, and transitioned into a job as a policy analyst after graduating. She continued for 12 years with NC Child, and served most recently as their Director of Policy and Outreach. In her role as Director of Policy and Outreach, she supported Healthy Places NC, which included a lot of community outreach and helped her form relationships with some of the same communities that the Rural Forward is now involved.
Brandy thinks that the biggest challenge in her new role will be trying to fix everything, and keeping herself healthy while committing so much of her time and herself to communities.
This work excites her because she can go home at night knowing she was helpful, whether it was just by listening to someone’s concerns or challenges, or by having helped solve a challenge. “I want to do good work that’s going to impact communities for the long-haul,” she says.
“I don’t just want a job. It’s knowing that I’ve done something good for the day. I woke up this morning for a reason, and I’m doing something that’s making a difference.”