Meet Brian


Brian speaks to the NAACP on mass incarceration and the drug war in 2002

Brian Gralnick is a 34 year old progressive, non-profit leader who on a local, state and national level has directed campaigns for economic security and healthcare for older adults and for an end to mass incarceration. His experience in state government and non-profits focusing on anti-poverty and aging-at-home policy and programs has been recognized by the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, The Philadelphia Inquirer, NBC and WHYY.  

Brian was born and raised in Cheltenham Township where he attended the public schools. He is a home owner who maintains a high level of engagement in community affairs. 

Investigating alleged abuse at the D.C. jail, Brian witnessed the devastating impact of mass incarceration. Recognizing the direct connection between drug policy and prison expansion while in college at The George Washington University, he helped found Students for Sensible Drug Policy and as the organization’s national director and board chair, led the group’s expansion from a single chapter to over 100 chapters. The group focuses on the ending the draconian practices of the war on drugs and its damaging impact on youth, particularly youth of color. Brian’s leadership was recognized by Rolling Stone magazine, MSNBC and Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” among others. 

Brian United Way

Brian at the United Way
describing his work helping
older adults age in place

As Chief of Staff for Pennsylvania State Representative Larry Curry, Brian saw the impact a legislator could have on issues such as public education and the environment; he also oversaw constituent services for Representative Curry’s Cheltenham, Jenkintown and Springfield district. Following his work with Curry, Brian, as Special Assistant in the Department of Aging, helped managed the state’s coordination of the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D) with the federal government and outreach to undeserved communities.  He also was responsible for preparing the Secretary of Aging, Nora Dowd Eisenhower, for House and Senate budget hearings.

Brian transitioned from state government to working in non-profits when he became manager for healthy aging for the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania where he directed and oversaw the grant program to support senior centers and other organizations that help older adults remain at home and in the community. From 2007 to 2009 the program distributed over $10 million to Center in the Park, the Germantown senior center, and other providers like the Visiting Nurses Association Community Services in Abington and Keystone Hospice in Springfield. The Department of Aging invited him to speak on linking revenue to results at the 2009 Senior Center Summit. In 2008 his work with senior centers was honored by receiving the National Institute of Senior Centers Public Private Partnership Award.  

Brian E Fund Lunch

Brian receives an award for
his advocacy on behalf of older
adults from the Phila Corp. for Aging

During this time, Brian also co-founded GenPhilly, a network of young professionals in Philadelphia endeavoring to make the city age-friendly. As a subject matter expert in aging, Brian worked with Wider Opportunities for Women and Pathways PA in creating the Elder Economic Security Standard which is used by policy makers and advocates throughout the Commonwealth to determine what older adults need to age in place with dignity.

Currently, Brian directs the Center for Social Responsibility at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia where he leads the community’s safety-net planning, investments and advocacy. Brian manages over $6 million in grants to anti-hunger, employment and aging-in-place programs in the region.  His innovations, from developing a next generation food pantry to fostering new partnerships to ensure that seniors receive public benefits, are widely recognized. As an advocate, he led the Greater Philadelphia Food Stamp Challenge to call attention to Governor Corbett’s plan to make receiving food stamps (SNAP) asset-based and then led the state-wide campaign to encourage the governor to abandon those plans, which included debating Corbett on 1210 WPHT.

Brian With Barney Frank

Brian and former Congressman
Barney Frank speak at
JSPAN's Annual Meeting

Brian remained a community activist while working in state government and at local non-profits, most notably, as President of the Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN) where he led the organization in advocacy and coalition-building with civil rights, healthcare and faith-based organizations. He co-founded the Annual Martin Luther King program sponsored by JSPAN and the Cheltenham Area Branch NAACP, which focuses on race and the criminal justice system. He also oversaw JSPAN’s collaboration with the Stop the Abington Hospital Merger Coalition, where he strategized with the group leaders and activated JSPAN’s thousand plus membership to preserve health services for women at the hospital. 

He was a 2013 Fellow with the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research Non-profit Executive Leadership Institute and 2006 Fellow with the Center for Progressive Leadership and received awards from the NAACP and Emergency Fund Coalition for Older Philadelphians. He also has published articles and opinion editorials on the social safety-net, healthcare and criminal justice. 

Brian graduated from The George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and earned a Master’s of Science in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania School for Social Policy & Practice.


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