In honor of National Women’s History Month, we are honoring some of the many talented women who work for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office through a series of interviews entitled: “The Women of CCPO”
Today, we recognize Legal Secretary Vera Brahn.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Vera: First, as a Black woman, Women’s History Month will always involve the achievements, challenges and celebration of women of color. It is important for the world to know that an empowered, seen and heard woman of color will bring extraordinary benefits in every community. This is something to rejoice and celebrate not only during Women’s History Month but every month.
What woman did you admire growing up and why?
Vera: This is an easy one, my mother. She overcame many challenges in her life and was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known.
She was born in Missouri during the 1920s. She told me a story about her childhood and how she was thrown to the ground while riding a horse on my grandfather’s farm. As a result, she was badly injured and, at the time, there were no hospitals that accepted Black people for hundreds of miles. Due to the extent of my mother’s injuries, my grandfather rushed her to the closest all-white hospital despite the restrictions and plead with the staff to have her admitted. She was eventually allowed to enter, but only under the condition that she remain in the basement. Once there, she was strapped to a table to recover and, sadly, did not receive the proper medical attention she deserved. Because of this, she suffered from stunted growth and had a hunched back. She only grew to 4’11 while her brothers and sisters soared to the heights of 6’2 and over. Despite my mother’s small stature, she was a tower of strength throughout her life.
The accident did not stop my mother from achieving her goals. She was brilliant with linguistics, mastering German, Japanese, Latin, Italian and French. She earned the position of Assistant Dean at Tuskegee University. She also became a published writer for the Catholic Star Herald newspaper. But above all, I view her personal greatest achievement as being a good mother. I remember her dedication towards me as a child when I had a speech impediment and a learning disability. My mother got creative to teach me several different methods to overcome this and encouraged me with new ways of learning. I am a better person because of her today. She was brilliant, fearless and will always be my hero.
Describe your role at the CCPO:
Vera: My start date with the office was 9/11/2001. On that terrifying day, there were many people who needed comforting, a shoulder to cry on, someone to listen to their fears, and to calm them during that difficult time and that became my role. I’ve worked in different units in the office such as the Record Room, Indictments, Juvenile, Community Partnership and presently, the Civil Litigation and Records Management Unit. Working in the Community Partnership Unit, where I was one of the coordinators for the High School Internship Program, I’ve had the pleasure of providing public speaking and drama skills to over 100 students for their graduation ceremonies and mock trials. I have represented the office for career fairs and accompanied investigators to the Juvenile Detention Center where we would speak with youth on subjects of bullying and domestic violence prevention.
I’ve been assigned projects above my daily duties such as handling the monthly and annual reporting of budget lines for various grants affiliated with Community Partnership, Employee of the Month Committee, I participated in the Curfew Program, was the Investigative Internship Coordinator and the Legal/Paralegal Internship Coordinator. I became an honorary member of the Lambda Epsilon Chi – National Honor Society in Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies Rowan College at Gloucester County Chapter and have received the Employee of the Month and Employee of the Year awards.
Working at the CCPO is my second career. I was a performing artist for over 30 years, and I have been very fortunate to use a lot of my skills and talents above and beyond the clerical duties/responsibilities required of me in each of my positions.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Vera: The most rewarding part of my job is being able to use all my skills, talents and abilities to best serve the CCPO in a clerical position.
What is your message to young girls interested in pursuing a career path like yours (or to young women in general)?
Vera: I want to encourage women of color to pursue higher levels of achievement. I hope to one day witness a woman of color as the Prosecutor of Camden County, the Chief of Detectives of Camden County or the Chief of Staff of Camden County.