Tony Brual is someone who has for more than two decades dedicated his life to serving those in need. He says this quality is something that was implanted in him early by his parents the late Tommy Brual and most importantly, his mother the late Dolores Brual, who he still calls his best friend. “I always give my mom credit for planting the seeds of what would become my life’s work of helping people. I remember one of the first things she did for me when I was seven years old, was to buy me a set of Black History Encyclopedias. She wanted me to learn about our culture and our history. Also, she wanted me to learn about the struggles as well, because to get totally invested in something you have to understand how it got started and the issues that we are facing. It is her being active and it is something that influenced me about getting involved in making sure there was equality for my community and my race,” he says of his late mother Dolores Brual and her importance in shaping his dedication to civic engagement.
Throughout the years he’s served in many capacities helping communities as a program manager of several initiatives that’s served to improve the quality of life of those in need. Presently, he is a Senior Program Manager providing day-to-day oversight of operational activities of marketing, enrollment and communications initiatives for Xavier University’s 22 million-dollar National Institutes of Health (NIH) BUILD Grant. “Over the years I’ve worked with churches pro bono, working with churches writing grants and bringing resources into the community. I also worked with the “Weed and Seed Initiative” which was funded by the Department of Justice that focused on bridging the gap between citizens and law enforcement and my job was to create the forum where the two could meet and start to have some real dialog around important issues. In the program, we did many things including: after school programs, mentoring, job training, life skills training and sometimes counseling and it brought me great joy to see the positive impact it had on the community.”
Brual is committed to helping create access to all. After Hurricane Katrina and into the present he is dedicated to bringing equity and resources that would empower communities, “I worked in disaster recovery after the storm and levee breach helping first responders get housing and bringing people back to the City. I also continue to work with faith based organizations and keeping my finger on the pulse of the community. It’s just that I love helping people and reassuring them that it’s a process to rebuild and address the issues that affect them and it is something that will not happen overnight, but I let them know if people are working together anything and everything is possible.”
He’s garnered much recognition for his work including several years ago receiving the Employee of the Year Award for Community Outreach and Program Development in Jefferson Parish. He says it brings him joy to see many of the people’s lives he’s touched over the years doing well. “To see young people, succeed is important to the future of our community. It feels good to do work that you know aligns with your purpose and passion.” Continuing he says, “I’ve always felt you should serve others because if you have found the secret to success that’s helping you live a better life share that. There is an old saying, ‘if you see a good fight jump in it’ and the things that are going on in our community it is necessary to get out there and take part in the fight. This fight is not something that is specifically racial, but a fight for a better quality of life for all people, because at the end of the day it is about all of us.”
Brual believes one of the most important things in life is to fulfill one’s purpose. Reflecting on his life he feels that is something he’s accomplished and wants to pass this spirit of giving to others onto others. “In my view, my purpose has always been about empowering my community. I think back to when I was young and was playing sports. I was not the guy that’s going to pick the best player; I would pick the one nobody wants and try to make him a winner. This approach is symbolic of what I do in the community. If I can help somebody I can do that by empowering them, by helping them overcome obstacles and be their best selves.”
In life, many cannot reach their goals because they do not believe they have it in them to maximize their potential. Brual feels this quality is key if one is to succeed. “You have to constantly believe in yourself. The hardest thing to do sometimes when other people are telling you can’t do something is to get up every day and look in that mirror and say I believe in myself. This is how I’ve lived my life saying to myself how can I say it can’t be done, when I see other people doing it. So, I know with hard vision, hard work dedication and sometimes help and encouragement from others it can be done and that is what want to pass on to others.”