Women's History Month - Jess Branas

Upper Darby Celebrates Councilor Jess Branas  

Upper Darby Township Council Community Engagement Committee is pleased to highlight the women who serve on Council in honor of Women's History Month. They each make an important impact while serving the residents and the Township of Upper Darby. And for that we say . . .Thank you!

Born in Lancaster, PA, Councilor Branas always set her sights high, yet was raised with “family-first” and “serve the community” ethics which were instilled by her mother and father. Her father was a doctor with a small private practice which her mother managed. Councilor Branas to this day remembers middle-of-the-night calls and watching her dad pack his medical bag to treat a neighbor. He was the meaning of “take care of your neighbors”. As she grew up in the Manheim Township School District, Branas spent most of her time on the soccer field as a goalie and a dedicated member of JCY (Jewish Center Youth) as Secretary of the Regional Board.

After graduating from Manheim Twp. High School in 1995, she headed to the other side of the state where she gained her B.A. in Spanish Linguistics and Literature and a minor in Latin American Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Trying out the corporate world for a few years after graduation, Branas was less than enthused and made her way to the Philadelphia area where she started teaching foreign language at the Phelps School in Chester County and entered the Master’s program at Millersville University. 

She continued to teach in a variety of schools during this time including for the City of Philadelphia and Salem County Vo-Tech in NJ. In her final year of graduate studies in 2012, Branas was steadfast as she battled thyroid cancer. Taking the train, 5 days a week, she showed up for long hours of study to succeed. And once she did, she didn’t stop. While she kept teaching, she re-entered the world of advocacy in her way.

Jess is now a 2x best-selling author, and former radio personality who focused on the LGBTQ community. As the Founder and CEO of Branas Enterprises, she first gained worldwide status with the release of her first best-selling book "Seeking Her, Knowing You" in 2014 followed by “Zero to Ninety” in 2016 that not only was a #1 best seller, but also became an Amazon New Hot Release.

Starting in 2014 she was heard as an on-air personality for LesBe Real Radio Talk (G-Town Radio/WKDU 91.7FM), Jess also created the podcast “Drinks with Jess" where she brought the LGBTQ community and its allies to the same table to initiate unity while discussing positive missions that guests created and supported. In 2014, Branas was named one of the one hundred empowering women in the world featured in the International Best Seller Trilogy “Common Threads” by Dr. Shelly Hipsky. She was then fortunate to be listed as one of the forty-seven boldest women in the world in “Next Bold Move” by International Best Selling Author, Tarra Flores Sloan. Branching out into entrepreneurship, Jess founded Branas Enterprises, a successful audio/visual production company, and the Be The Voice group of podcasts. Always a passionate activist for the LGBTQ+ community, Jess continued her avocation, which led her into the political arena.

Drawing on her lifelong values of community and civic engagement, Jess joined the office of PA-163 Rep. Mike Zabel, as a constituent services advisor in 2022, and was elevated to District Director by his successor, Rep. Heather Boyd. In this role, she ensures that all residents’ voices and concerns are heard and understood in Harrisburg. Her work with Rep. Boyd led to Jess’ nomination as the Democratic candidate for Upper Darby Township Council, representing District 2. Her 2023 election was historic: the first out lesbian to become a Councilor from that district and Jess’ upset victory flipped the 2nd District seat, which had been Republican since the early Cold War, heralding real change in the township. Jess continues to work tirelessly, improving the quality of life for everyone in Upper Darby, carrying on her commitments to public service and advocacy.

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