Chanda Branch is a fierce, fly and fantastic woman who lives by the motto, “Just watch me.” Leadership and civic engagement were instilled in her as core values at a young age in her hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida and she remains committed to those concepts as she helps to build the community in Raleigh, North Carolina and bless those in communities throughout the nation.
An alumnus of Tennessee State University, with a B.S. in Speech Communications & Theatre including Teaching Certification, Chanda credits her HBCU education for grounding her in her identity as a woman of color and equipping her to face the shifting challenges of the 21st century. Though she is a “Big Blue & White Tiger” at heart, she supports and advocates for all Historically Black Colleges and Universities so that future generations can continue the forward progress initiated by those who went before.
Chanda ventured into the world of pageantry to win some book money as a college junior. Since that first pageant, she fell in love with the glitz, the glamour, and the grind and has captured local, state, and national titles which include: Miss Black & Gold-Beta Omicron, Miss Black & Gold-Asso. of Tennessee Alphamen, Mrs. Black North Carolina-2017, Ms. Black North Carolina-2020, and Ms. Black USA-2020. She has been afforded the opportunity to travel, inspiring and uplifting others through speaking engagements and appearances, promoting her #stARTstrong platform, and appreciating the beauty and character of the nation and its people from coast to coast.
Mrs. Branch was first appointed to the City of Raleigh Arts Commission in 2014 and reappointed to two additional terms by the city council. The aim of the commission runs parallel to her own as “the Commission is dedicated to the ongoing goal of connecting people to the arts and building a vital and ever-expanding creative community for Capital City residents and visitors.” She serves the city and the commission as its Chair and is the first Black woman to do so. She formerly served as the Chair of the Grants Committee, which oversee the distribution of municipal funding for arts partners as well as the Racial Equity and Inclusion Task Force, which was established in order to explore an address disparities within the arts with regards to race and ethnicity.
As a professional classroom educator of English, Dance and Drama, Chanda is an award winning standout. She has produced plays and variety shows for students despite constraints on time, money, and resources. Her experience confirms her belief that young men and women blossom when they have an opportunity to express themselves creatively, and that being involved in a stage production teaches skills that reach far beyond what students will see on a test. She is currently the Director of Theater at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School, home of the Bulldogs!
One of Chanda’s passions is engaging youth and members of diverse communities in the arts for civic change and social justice. Often, the ability to pay for lessons and everything else associated with training is a barrier for those who have great talent, but do not have vast resources. This excludes certain groups from participating fully in the arts on many levels.
Chanda sits on the Board of Directors for North Carolina Theatre (Education Committee) and the Board of Director for the Raleigh Boychoir. She enjoys the work of serving on each of these boards because they are organizations who directly impact youth and allow her to create connections to the arts for young people who might not otherwise be able to engage. She is exploring ways to help creatives of color connect to resources in order to develop their talent.
Chanda’s family is the core of her being and the reason she can exist as the fullest version of herself. She is the daughter of two career educators, and the granddaughter of one of St. Petersburg, Florida’s first black police officers. She adores her in-laws, her bubbly younger sister, her two handsome nephews, and her darling little niece. Chanda and her incredible husband, City of Raleigh Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Branch, welcomed a precious blessing in the form of their daughter, Carleigh. Being a mother to has changed the game! Chanda’s life and work have new perspectives and the stakes are heightened as the realization that what she does now will impact the world that her child will inherit.
It’s hard to believe, but Chanda somehow finds a few spare moments to enjoy hobbies! She loves reading, knitting, crafts of all kinds, traveling, baking and listening to great podcasts.
Follow: @MsBlackUSA / @Iammrsbranch / @Iammamabranch on Instagram and Facebook!