Brandon Prosansky has an impressive track record of leadership. When he's not handling pro bono cases for clients seeking political asylum at Barack Ferrazzano law firm, Brandon involves himself with a number of leadership and philanthropic organizations related to the Jewish community. A chair of the JUF Young Lawyers Group, through which he makes connections for young Jewish lawyers and law students, he also devotes his time to JFNA's National Young Leadership Cabinet and the JUF Young Leadership Division, giving advice to aspiring young Jewish leaders over coffee or lunch.
Outside of the courtroom, Brandon regularly gives back to the community. He has volunteered at McAuliffe Elementary School on the West side and mentors young professionals, who have found him to be an "inspiration."
Pays the bills:
Attorney at Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP
On the side:
I've always wanted to be in a band, despite my acknowledged lack of musicality. I even took guitar lessons for a couple of years at the Old Town School of Folk Music and occasionally will strum out a few notes here and there. While waiting for that dream to be realized, I spend a lot of time listening to music by others who actually have talent, and attending shows at the various venues across this city, be it Reggie's on the South Side, the Beat Kitchen and Bottom Lounge to the West, or North-side stalwart and long-time favorite, the Metro.
I met my beautiful and incredibly supportive girlfriend at the 2011 JUF Lawyers Division Dinner just over a year ago.
Describe yourself in 10 words or less:
Adventurous, outgoing traveler. Pragmatic, solution-oriented lawyer. Generous, dependable friend.
Some of my work colleagues and at least one Chicago cab driver are convinced I look like Rahm Emanuel. Also, in the 1990s, I was told I look like Keanu Reeves. And finally, my girlfriend, who recently started watching Mad Men, tells me I look like Jon Hamm (but I think she just wants me to look like him).
How do you Jew in Chicago?
I'm currently the Chair of the JUF Young Lawyers Group. I also just joined the Board of Directors of the JUF Young Leadership Division, I'm a member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America. I attend as many Chicago events hosted by Jewish organizations (JUF, AIPAC, U.S. Holocaust Museum) as I can, and convince others to attend. I regularly meet with young Jewish people who are new to the city or those just looking to get more involved in the Jewish community, and provide advice on various opportunities available to them.
Leaving the U.S. and seeing the world is both exhilarating and humbling. I do my best to travel at least once a year. My favorite destinations have included Australia, South Africa, Vietnam, and, of course, Israel (Birthright, May 2000). Most recently, I had an incredible experience getting to know the Jewish story in Greece with the JFNA NYL Cabinet study mission. I also love trying new restaurants, listening to punk/ska music and going to concerts.collecting beer coasters, labels, and caps, Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls.
How do you give back?
I represent asylum seekers on a pro bono basis. Most recently, I helped an Iranian man obtain asylum in the U.S. after he fled persecution for having participated in the 2009 protests against President Ahmadinejad. I enjoy volunteering in a Jewish context, such as delivering Jewish holiday food packages to those less fortunate. I also provide significant monetary contributions to several Jewish (and non-Jewish) organizations.
Fill in the blank: If time and money were limitless, I would:
Learn Hebrew, practice tikkun olam by volunteering in a Jewish community in need, explore my ancestry in Poland, Belarus, and the Ukraine, establish a scholarship fund in my parents' honor for disadvantaged kids from the schools they worked at in the Chicago Public School system, become a scotch connoisseu, travel to destinations on my list, including Ireland, Central America, Ecuador, Alaska, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia, attend the Winter Olympics, take on more pro bono asylum cases and finally, play guitar better.
Chicago's Jewish community in 10 years:
I see the Chicago Jewish community thriving. The young people that I've had the opportunity to get to know, who will be community and organization leaders in 10 years, are deeply committed to ensuring that happens. At the same time, the effects of the recent economic situation won't simply disappear, such that the need for assistance will continue to grow. Today's Chicago Jewish community leadership, both young and experienced, will meet that challenge as well.
Me in 10 years:
I'd like to think I will still enjoy the best of city-living and won't have made the leap out to the burbs. If I'm fortunate enough to be married with children, I would enjoy passing down my family's Jewish traditions. It would be great to be a partner at my law firm who has developed a steady client base, and it would be very interesting to take on an adjunct professorship to help train the next generation of lawyers. I know I will continue my involvement in and support for local, national, and international Jewish causes. And, I will forever be grateful for not abandoning my Cubs season tickets, having witnessed their World Series victory at Wrigley Field.