40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Brandon Braxton

Age 39: Senior Relationship Manager, NewAlliance Bank

Brandon Braxton hasn’t forgotten the excitement of buying his first home.

It happened in 2004, about a year before his adopted daughter, Caterina, was born.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. That meaning has been hammered home to Braxton since he joined Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity in early 2007 and met some of the grateful homeowners.

“Knowing where your children will grow up is something many folks take for granted,” he said. “But for those who don’t have that luxury, it’s life-altering.” The graduate of Amherst College signed on with Habitat when he heard his alma mater was donating land for four homes, with the goal of having up to 10 classes of students work on their construction. “It seemed like a great project, and the mission of providing affordable housing and home ownership is something I believe in,” he said.

By September of 2007, Braxton was president of the board of directors. He is dedicated to the progam’s expansion, which has taken on personal meaning as he has gotten to know and witness the excitement of the homeowners and their children. “The mission becomes very tangible,” he said. “We are making the community a better place, but it’s far more personal.

When you ceremonially hand over the keys, it’s an amazing feeling. And it’s nice to have 0%-interest mortgages, which I can’t do in my day job.” His position as senior relationship manager at NewAlliance Bank in West Springfield makes him acutely aware of developments in the area housing market and the difficulty of finding affordable housing in the Pioneer Valley.

He is dedicated to Habitat and says he is lucky to work for an organization that supports his volunteer work. His wife, A. Rima Dael, is also dedicated to making a difference and was in BusinessWest’s inaugural 40 Under Forty class in 2007. “We are proud to be a 40 Under Forty couple,” said Braxton.

—Kathy Mitchell