Student and Alumni Spotlights

Brandon McKoy

Alumni Spotlight: Rising Star awardee Brandon McKoy, MCRP ’13

Photo: Brandon Mckoy MCRP ’13 (left) and Interim Dean Stuart Shapiro

Bloustein School Alumni Rising Star honoree Brandon McKoy sometimes called himself “the weird kid who arrived in the spring semester” to begin his journey as a Bloustein School planning student.

Since embarking on his professional career, Brandon has emerged as a leading policymaker and social justice advocate. He has received numerous recognitions including being named as a 40-under-40 top millennial leader as well as a top leader of color in New Jersey. Brandon also served as Director of Mentorship, Director of Diversity, and Deputy Director of the New Leaders Council – New Jersey chapter, and was selected as one of five national fellows – from over 600 applicants – by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Over the course of the past 10 years since I graduated, the work that we do has gotten much more challenging for very unfortunate reasons. But it is the community that I was able to build here that has helped me to accomplish what I have, and has helped me to maintain the perspective that is necessary to ensure that we are always striving for what is best and what is right. “

BRANDON MCKOY, MCRP ’13

“This is a tremendous honor. This institution provided me with more than I ever thought. As many of you in this room know, I am a Jersey boy through and through,” Brandon said at the Bloustein School Alumni Awards celebration in October 2022. “This is the institution where I met my wife, who is a partner in every sense of the word. This is the institution where I met colleagues who pushed me to be better, to be smarter, to be kinder, and to think about what it is that we truly want.”

Brandon McKoy MCRP ’14 (right) is congratulated by Moses Salami EJB ’11 (Public Health), a member of the Bloustein School Advisory Board

He joined New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive think tank, as a policy analyst following his graduation and quickly moved up the ranks to become Director of Government and Public Affairs. In that role, he developed and implemented the strategic direction of the organization’s policy agenda and outreach to legislative and administrative officials. Less than a year later, in 2019 he became the fourth, and youngest, person to become president of NJPP.

Called a “…rising star in a rising generation of policy leaders,” by Jun Choi, chair of NJPP’s Board of Trustees, Brandon helped the organization grow in funding, size and influence while radically reshaping the narrative on the role of state budgets in advancing racial equity. A year ago he became the Vice President of State Partnerships at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where he provides strategic support to a network of think tanks across 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

“Over the course of the past 10 years since I graduated, the work that we do has gotten much more challenging for very unfortunate reasons,” he said. “But it is the community that I was able to build here that has helped me to accomplish what I have, and has helped me to maintain the perspective that is necessary to ensure that we are always striving for what is best and what is right.”

Brandon (center) also recently presented the Bloustein School’s Robert A. Catlin Memorial Lecture. Returning for the presentation were former classmates (from left to right) Andrew Lappitt MCRP ’12, Liz Mahn MPP ’13, Max Azzarello MCRP ’12, and Katie Brennan MCRP ’12.

In addition to his career responsibilities, Brandon has gained 15 years of experience in social policy research, advocacy, and implementation, having served on the boards of various community organizations, advised governors on economic and tax policy, and participated in multiple task forces to advance racial and economic justice and reduce barriers in marginalized communities. 

“This is the institution that allowed someone with a planning degree to become known for their policy chops. I’m fortunate to now teach here, a course on the racial wealth gap. Having the opportunity to teach, and having the opportunity to engage on a weekly basis, with people who are so filled with interests and purpose and energy and lend their talents to this community and to this world…thank you very much for this opportunity, and thank you for all you have provided to me.”

Brandon met his wife, fellow alum Liz Mahn MPP ’13, during his Bloustein School career.