The Bragg Family: Pro Humanitate in Action

An extended family in North Carolina exemplifies Wake Forest's motto

Photography by Travis Dove (’04)

Summer 2020

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About a half-hour away from the bustling city of Charlotte and the family business is the 400-acre farm where Frank Bragg (’61, P ’88, ’90, ’93) and Kathy Broach Bragg (’62, P ’88, ’90, ’93) share their lives with their four grown children and their spouses, grandchildren, dogs, deer and birds. All the families have homes on the farm, a restorative place where Kathy occasionally hosts contemplative retreats. It’s a hub for a family that has contributed to the local community and the Charlotte region in myriad ways. Three of the four Bragg children are Demon Deacons, and the fourth married one. Two daughters-in-law are sisters. All members of the family exemplify Pro Humanitate in action.  — Maria Henson (’82)

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The Bragg Family

(Jump to profile by clicking names)











 

Frank Bragg (’61, P ’88, ’90, ’93)

Founder and chairman emeritus of Bragg Financial Advisors

Frank Bragg

His cause: Land conservation. Last year he received The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, since the early 1960s bestowed by North Carolina governors to individuals who have shown exceptional service to the state. He was nominated for his work to preserve land in North Carolina. He has been chair of the Catawba Lands Conservancy, vice chair of the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund and a board member of the Conservation Trust of North Carolina and of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. He co-founded Preserve Mecklenburg, a nonprofit to identify historic properties and facilitate their preservation. Among many other community endeavors ranging from arts leadership to feeding the hungry, he is co-founder of Right Moves for Youth, a nonprofit serving at-risk youth since 1993.

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“I love people. … I like to make good things happen, whether it be in business, real estate — Bragg Financial has been great fun. I love to do the same thing in the community, but I march to my own beat. I find out things that I think need to be done and try to make them better or start a new one (nonprofit).

The only cause that I’ve been involved with that will outlive me is land conservation. All the other things that I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with in the charity world or in the corporate world will all change and maybe disappear or merge with other organizations, but land conservation is permanent and will outlive the landowner. All this land around here … is under a permanent conservation easement, and it can never be developed in perpetuity.

That gives the wildlife and the migratory birds and all those people who love trees — and I’m one of them — a place that they can say, ‘This won’t change.’ … Developments are a good thing, but you don’t want all of the earth developed. You need some balance.”

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Kathy Broach Bragg (’62, P ’88, ’90, ’93)

Church volunteer

Kathy Bragg

Her cause: “The church is my hub.” Her father, the Rev. Claude Broach, was the minister at St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte for three decades beginning in 1944 and promoted “servant-church” leadership. Kathy Broach has helped the homeless, veterans, underprivileged children, inmates, Sudanese refugees and people in need of food or love through her church’s programs.

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“What I realized is that the things that stir me up today are the same things that came to me as a child growing up with my mother and father who instilled in me the value and beauty basic to every single person … each God’s own child who is loved the same as I. These foundational beliefs inform my faith and my service in the church and community. … This faith, I took with me to Wake Forest where it was nurtured by friendships, and campus professors and leaders.

I am very proud of my big family and all that they have been
able to do to make this a better world.”

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Alice Carlton Bragg (’92, JD ’97)

Stay-at-home mom and community volunteer

Alice Carlton Bragg

Her cause: Advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court by volunteering for the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem program in Mecklenburg County. Through the program, trained volunteers make recommendations to enhance a judge’s decision-making to ensure that each child has needed services and a safe, permanent home in the shortest time possible.

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“Because of my law degree and all of the skills I’ve developed at Wake Forest, it’s been great to use those skills in writing and communications … to help come up with the best resolution for a child and help them hopefully find a placement where they’ll have a better path.

(Pro Humanitate) means using all that I have been given — education, financial resources, time, skills — to make the difference in the life of another person.”

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Benton Bragg (’90, MBA ’97)

President of Bragg Financial Advisors

Benton Bragg

His cause: Creating educational and economic opportunities for community college students. He is vice chair of the board of Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, which serves more than 92,000 college and continuing-education students a year, has eight locations and partners with more than 800 companies.

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“From a young age, I always believed that we all had an opportunity. We had an equal opportunity. We have free public education. We could go to school, and we can all succeed if we work hard at it. And I kind of went along in life thinking that way. But as I’ve gotten older, I realized that it’s not equal. … I thought about the young man (at Central Piedmont) who said, ‘No one I ever knew went through college.’ And there’s obviously a huge difference.

I think about how fortunate my kids are — and I was — to have these parents who said, ‘You do this and then you do this and then do this.’ Or other people in our lives who kind of help us along the way. We have every advantage, and there are thousands of kids who don’t. And I feel like community college is a way that we can reach thousands of kids and their parents — in many cases, single mothers. We can reach them and try to get them to see that if they go through these steps, they can have a great opportunity ahead.”

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Leslie McLean Bragg (’91)

Teacher, 11th grade English, at Community School of Davidson

Leslie McLean Bragg

Her cause: Education of older teenagers, who she says “are able to wrestle with complex ideas and concepts and consider different perspectives.” She also teaches Sunday school and has volunteered with Community Food Rescue.

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“I do love my subject area, but I’m also invested in educating students in the way that I treat them, the way that they see me treat others.

Pro Humanitate means to me to see the humanity in others. And when you’re living your life with that lens, you’re always able to value others. And so, when you value others, that informs how you treat them. (Pro Humanitate) is the foundation.”

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Phillips Bragg (’93)

Vice president and director of estate and charitable planning at Bragg Financial Advisors

Phillips Bragg

His cause: The Raising South Sudan project. Inspired by his friendship with Lubo Mijak, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who fled his village from government militia, Bragg has devoted years to helping Mijak, who arrived in Charlotte as a refugee. Mijak got an education and became like a brother to Bragg. Raising South Sudan arose from Mijak’s first visits home in 2007 and 2008. Above the many needs he identified, education was at the forefront. Bragg (and his family and church) went all in. He enlisted the expertise of Mothering Across Continents nonprofit to be a catalyst for shepherding the dream. Bragg traveled to South Sudan, which split from Sudan to become its own country in 2011. Today, thanks to the project and Bragg’s unwavering support, a school has been built and serves 500 students. Mijak lives in South Sudan, checks on the school and is exploring microfinance possibilities for villagers. At home, Bragg is a board member of Right Moves for Youth in Charlotte.

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“Our church covenant has this sentence that we believe in the infinite worth of every person, and I just find that hard to dispute and to look away from. That speaks to me on the individual level. That especially makes it easier to work in impractical situations like South Sudan. It’s very hard. South Sudan is a hard problem to solve, but the individual is not. They’re one of God’s children just like you are. You don’t have to sit there and wonder, ‘Is this a good use of time and money and resources?’ Yes. Are there better ways, more practical things? Yes, but that’s not the question.”

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John Bragg III (’88, P ’20, ’23)

Vice president and client advisor at Bragg Financial Advisors

John Bragg

His cause: Boy Scouts of America. An Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster, Bragg has worked with Scouts for more than 12 years. He likes teaching the boys and now girls who are Scouts to be independent, plan, organize and lead. He also takes them on camping trips about once a month and in the summer on trips for what he calls “high adventures” such as backpacking or ice climbing that can last up to 12 days. Last year his group climbed Mount Baker in Washington.

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“It requires a great deal of patience as an adult to watch kids make mistakes, which is wonderful. In this day and age, where we don’t ever let kids fail, they get to screw it up all the time and fail constantly. They fail to set their tent up right. They forget to bring their rain jackets. They burn the food. They forgot to bring the food. None of those has any kind of tragic consequences at all, but you forget your rain jacket one time, you’ll never forget it again. You learn these huge lessons. The comedy of it — as an adult to be able to just sit back and enjoy the comedy, watching kids try to organize, plan, cook a meal, do something like that — is really fun.

(Pro Humanitate), I think, at its core is serving others and doing for others. In large part, for me anyway, it has meant a gift of my time and being involved with these young folks.”

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Catherine Carlton Bragg (’90, P ’20, ’23)

Former Charlotte public school teacher

Catherine Bragg

Her cause: Volunteering through a program, B.E.S.T., she and seven other retired or former teachers created at Davidson Col-lege Presbyterian Church to partner with LeGette Blythe Elementary School in Huntersville. B.E.S.T. also has a reading program using community volunteers and built a raised-bed garden at the school.

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“One of the biggest pleasures for me has been how our congregation has responded. … There’s something for all ages. Little kids can help out with some of the projects we’ve done, collecting shoes and socks for kids or painting games on the play-ground, things like that. We’ve had teams go out there on Saturdays. And then, we do things for the teachers, like teacher ap-preciation lunches and breakfasts.”

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Steve Scruggs (MBA ’96)

Director of research and investment manager at Bragg Financial Advisors

Steve Scruggs

His causes: Conservation and serving in leadership at Davidson College Presbyterian Church. He is on the board of the Catawba Lands Conservancy, a nonprofit that conserves land in the Southern Piedmont of North Carolina, working to improve water and air quality and protect wildlife habitats, farmland and open spaces. It is also the lead organization for the Carolina Thread Trail, a project for a regional network of greenways and trails. “To keep people connected with nature,” says Scruggs, “is really important.”

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“I’ve recently taken to meditating a lot and getting into a kind of presence, and mindfulness, and stillness, and being outdoors. I’m a hunter. And hunting has always been such a great thing for me, and during hunting season, I feel much happier. Yesterday I was hunting, and I was sitting in a tree stand, and when you’re hunting you have to be completely silent, you have to be completely still, and you have to be completely aware of everything that’s going on around you. … I realized that that’s no different than meditating. Being present in the moment, being still, being quiet and just being present, and focusing not on anything else that’s going on in the world, but just right here, right now. It was so enlightening to just realize I’d been doing this for so many years and not really know that I was doing it.”

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Katie Bragg Scruggs

Stay-at-home mom with four teenagers

Katie Scrugg

Her cause: Advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children through the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem program in Mecklenburg County. Through the program, trained volunteers make recommendations to enhance a judge’s decision-making to ensure that each child has needed services and a safe, permanent home in the shortest time possible.

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“A lot of my volunteer work has been somehow connected to my kids all along. You know, whether it was school or youth group, church Sunday school, teaching. Now that they’re older and there’s more time, I really wanted to be able to dig deeper into something, and Guardian ad Litem allows for much deeper relationships.

It’s like no other volunteer work that I’ve done. … You have to be patient and focused and continue to be support-ive of that child, even when you know that things aren’t necessarily going to happen exactly as they hope in that time frame. But it is amazingly rewarding to have a child open up to you and express himself or herself.”

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