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James Bransford
James Bransford

Unsung: James Bransford

James Bransford has had a rich career working with nonprofits involved in the criminal justice system.

For the past three years he has served as a community outreach specialist for the St. Paul-based Nurturing House LLC. The organization helps find counseling for African-Americans and African immigrants who have suffered substance abuse or interpersonal violence.

The state-funded program works as a referral service of culturally appropriate resources. “I expend most of my energy in the area of corrections,” Bransford said. “It could involve placing an Islamic child in a foster home … or dealing with immigrants who have suffered trauma.” The key to a successful placement is matching clients’ needs with the right provider, Bransford said.

Assisting people in need has been his life’s work while working with nonprofits and as a consultant to state agencies and counties. He helped found two organizations, the Institute on Black Chemical Abuse and African American Family Services. The institute, which no longer exists, was formed because “in the land of 10,000 treatment centers there were none for African-Americans,” he said.

Despite spending much of his career focused on the criminal justice system, Bransford has no law degree. “I’m not an attorney — that’s the interesting thing,” he said. “I have two daughters who are attorneys, but not me.”

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