Joe Braman, ’16 MBA, earned the prestigious Mary A. McEvoy Award for Public Engagement and Leadership this year for shaping a more welcoming community for LGBTQ students at the Carlson School.  He serves as president of Compass: a student organization that encourages all students to be their authentic selves both as students and as professionals.

“I feel a personal sense of responsibility to ensure the school is sending our future business leaders into the world with the skills they need to be strong allies to the LGBTQ community,” he says.

In two short years, Braman has made a lasting impact on his fellow students.

“Joe is an outspoken and highly regarded LGBTQ community leader in the Twin Cities,” says Carlson MBA Director of Student Affairs Patrick McCarthy. “His commitment to ensuring that LGBTQ awareness is part of the MBA experience … will benefit the business community as our students resume their careers with an improved ability to appreciate one another’s differences.”

Increasing access to safe housing

Prior to enrolling in the Carlson Full-Time MBA Program, Braman worked in financial services and owned two businesses. One venture was dedicated to helping families who were struggling with the foreclosure crisis in Florida.

As an MBA student, he co-founded Braman Brothers Real Estate, LLP— a real estate sales and development company that increases families’ access to safe, affordable, and ethically managed housing in the Twin Cities. Through its partnership with Coldwell Banker Burnet, the start-up helps people buy and sell residential real estate in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Braman Brothers donates 10 percent of profits to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, and reinvests the remaining 90 percent to develop a portfolio of properties for local families.

“Our goal is to purchase or develop our first property and place the first family in a safe, affordable, and ethically managed home by the end of 2016. By 2021 our goal is to have 8-10 properties providing 15-30 families with safe, affordable, and ethically managed housing,” says Braman.

A testing ground for entrepreneurs

Braman received the Sands Fellowship last year to further develop this venture. The $5,000 fellowship supports a select number of Carlson MBA student entrepreneurs to develop their ideas for making their community a better place.

Braman developed the knowhow he needed to launch his business by participating in the Ventures Enterprise: a hands-on program in which students work with real-world clients to test business ideas, create business plans, and launch start-ups.

He also leveraged numerous classes, coaching, and networking opportunities through the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship to refine his business. He will continue growing Braman Brothers Real Estate after graduating.

“The Carlson School is an incredible place for entrepreneurs to come to launch a business, which is exactly what I wanted to use my time there to do,” says Braman. “ The Ventures Enterprise provided work that is exactly what I love to do as an entrepreneur, and it was an invaluable experience.”

This is the second consecutive year a Carlson MBA student has earned the McEvoy Award: in 2015, Charles Stewart received the honor.