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Brittany Bradley

A journey of self-discovery with Public Allies Arizona

June 12, 2024 — Brittany Bradley’s life has been a courageous journey of self-discovery and embracing her authentic self. Originally from Illinois, she headed to Arizona soon after college, determined to forge her own path. Little did she know, this move would lead her to an organization that would profoundly shape her personal growth and career trajectory – Public Allies Arizona.

As a young adult working multiple jobs to make ends meet, Brittany found herself yearning for a sense of purpose beyond just earning a paycheck. "I was searching for jobs that meant something," she recalls. It was during this soul-searching phase that she stumbled upon Public Allies Arizona, an organization that resonated with her desire to create positive change.

The ASU Lodestar Center’s Public Allies Arizona program matches emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds with nonprofit and government organizations in Phoenix and Tucson-area communities for a 10-month paid internship, either full- or part-time, allowing the organizations to increase their capacity and further the good work they do in their communities, while the Ally learns and grows as a leader and gains valuable job experience. It’s part of a nationwide network of Public Allies sites.

Intrigued by the mission, Brittany did her research and knew after her initial interview that Public Allies Arizona was the right fit. "I could get paid to influence others to speak up and speak out for a living," she said. "As someone who wanted to support the LGBTQ+ community and people of color like myself, it was amazing."

During her first year as a Public Ally, Brittany was placed at Arizona State University's Next Generation Service Corps, where she worked with student leaders. Drawing from her life experiences, she helped develop these students, many of whom were first-generation college attendees grappling with self-doubt and negative self-talk – challenges she could relate to from her own lived experience.

Her second year took her to Los Angeles, where she worked with Brotherhood Crusade, a nonprofit serving predominantly Black and Brown youth and young men. As the only female with two older brothers, Brittany felt at home in this environment, serving as a strong Black woman role model. "I wanted to show them there was another way out," she explains. "That they didn't have to turn to the examples they'd only seen, and that there were people who could support them."

Through her journey with Public Allies, Brittany gained invaluable skills, including public speaking – something she had never enjoyed but now embraces. More importantly, she learned the power of asset-based thinking, shifting her mindset from negative self-talk to recognizing her true strengths.

The transition from a productivity-focused job to Public Allies Arizona’s emphasis on personal growth was challenging at first. "It was about growing as a human being in society, not just what you were producing," Brittany reflects. Thankfully, she had the unwavering support of her program managers and supervisors, who provided mentorship and accepted her as a valued team member.

Today, Brittany's experience has opened doors to a fulfilling career. She now serves as a program coordinator for Public Allies Los Angeles, focusing on alumni engagement and pathways. Her journey has come full circle, allowing her to pay forward the guidance she once received.

When asked what advice she would give prospective Public Allies, Brittany's response is straightforward: "You get out what you put in." She encourages participants to show up wholeheartedly, be honest with themselves and their cohort, and believe in their abilities from the start.

"Public Allies is a program for everyone, no matter your walk of life or experience," Brittany affirms. For her, it was a transformative experience that allowed her to embrace her authentic self, gain confidence, and channel her passion into creating positive change.

Image: Brittany Bradley (right) with her Mentor from Next Generation Service Corps, Laura Tan

Story by Nyasha Mhungu, ASU Lodestar Center