John R. Bruno, Founder (1927-2021)

During his tenure as press secretary to former New Jersey Governor Robert B. Meyner in the late 1960s, John R. Bruno, Sr. recognized a glaring need in our communities: many municipal and county units of government did not have the resources and capacity to effectively pursue and administer grant opportunities state and federal level. His on-the-job training in the inner sanctum of government was a natural springboard for his establishment of Bruno Associates, Inc. which has become one of the leading grant and public relations consulting agencies in the State of New Jersey.  One of the state’s most recognized business professionals for over 45 years, John was also active on the local level. John chaired his Town’s Recreation Commission for 15 years and served as Chairman of the Cancer Society Fundraising Program, as well as many other charitable organizations. He was the recipient of numerous awards, which include the Italian-American Police Society Award and one from the Newark Municipal Council for 30 years of service to the Council. Other awards include a Commendation from Harrison Mayor Raymond McDonough; a Certificate of Appreciation from Rahway Mayor James J. Kennedy; an Appreciation Award from Newark Councilman-At-Large Luis A. Quintana; and a Recognition Award from Rutherford Mayor William Eireinhoffer.

In 2002, he convened the Mayors of Essex County’s five largest urban cities to form the Essex County Anti-Gang Regional Task Force. This project successfully held a first-ever forum on anti-gang initiatives and in attendance was a representative from every law enforcement agency, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the prosecutor’s office, and other community groups.

Chris Brown, Chief Executive Officer

Since taking on a position of leadership in 2011, Christopher has helped solidify the vision of service that inspired Mr. Bruno to create this company. This vision has led to growth for Bruno Associates, Inc. and its many clients. Over the past 13 years, Christopher has compiled an excellent record of service and has secured over $100 million in grant funding for his clients. With such valuable writing and administrative skills, Christopher has simultaneously managed company affairs while developing strategic plans and writing successful grant applications for nearly every client of Bruno Associates, Inc. He has vast experience with the needs of municipalities, boards of education, MUAs and non-profit organizations. He is very knowledgeable and has successfully written grants for fire prevention, law enforcement, environmental and green issues, green acres, open space, hazard mitigation programs, transportation, health programs, educational and literacy programs, housing and development, and recreation. He has quickly developed a sound base of contacts within funding organizations who respect his grasp of the grant process and his insight when it comes to fulfilling clients’ needs.  Christopher is a graduate of Widener University with a Bachelor of Science degree in business and is highly qualified to teach Special Education in the public and private educational systems in New Jersey.

Melissa Castelbuono, Director of Finance & Administration

Melissa has been a member of Bruno Associates since 2007. In her role as Director, she is accountable for managing the company’s administrative and financial operations. Melissa oversees all aspects of the firm’s strategic plans and is responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures, as well as data management and compliance. Additionally, she is responsible for managing the RFP/RFQ process for the firm’s public sector clients. Melissa has over 20 years of experience serving in administrative and management positions. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications from the New York Fashion Institute of Technology.

Stephen Welsh, Director

Stephen S. Welsh joined the firm of Bruno Associates as an Account Executive three years ago and he is now a Director with the firm. He is very knowledgeable and has successfully written grants for water and sewer systems, law enforcement, community development, environmental and green issues, green acres, open space, NJDOT, health programs, housing and development, and recreation. He previously served as a Township Business Administrator in local Municipal Government. In that role, he successfully obtained community development, NJDOT, and open space grants. He has completed courses for eligibility to obtain certification as a CMFO and completed training through the Project Management Institute as a Project Manager. Steve also served for over 27 years as an elected official in the Borough of Morris Plains, his hometown, giving him valuable insight to the problems experienced by local Governing Bodies as they deal with diminishing revenues and budget caps. Previous to his job as a Business Administrator, Steve worked as an Information Technology professional skilled at solving every day and complex business problems with a strong track record for increasing productivity, improving efficiency and reducing operating costs while achieving desired results. Steve also possesses significant experience in Management, Application Development, and Software Package installation. In his experience, Steve has developed and managed projects for Financial Services, Manufacturing, Engineering, Insurance, Utility, and Pharmaceutical firms.

Steve holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from William Paterson University. He is involved with service to his community through the Morris Plains Rotary Club for 39 years and as Chairman of the Morris Plains Memorial Day Parade Committee from its’ start in 1987 through today.

Joseph DiFranco, Senior Director

Joseph DiFranco joined Bruno Associates after nearly two years of professional experience for North Jersey Media Group’s Essex County division. During that time he received a number of awards from the New Jersey Press Association for his unique perspective engaging issues. During his formative college years Joseph interned for Public Mind polls, an independent research group that conducts public opinion polling and other research on politics, society, popular culture, consumer behavior and economic trends, at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Madison campus. Upon joining Bruno Associates, Joseph received his grant writing certification at the State University of New York. Joseph has demonstrated an innate ability to connect with clients by simplifying the grant management process and allowing clients to integrate it into the other responsibilities that come with running a local municipality.

Joseph specializes in grant management services at the County, State and Federal level from sources, not limited to the Department of Environmental Protection to the Department of Transportation. Above all else, he believes his ultimate job is to make yours easier and to help clients mobilize the funding for positive change.  Prior to his professional career, Joseph graduated Montclair State University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, along with a minor in Leadership Development through Civic Engagement.

Kyle Marrs, Associate

Kyle comes to Bruno Associates with grant experience working at a national non-profit organization and prior to that, the New York State Senate. In his previous roles, Kyle engaged with constituents, industry leaders and government officials, building professional and productive relationships. Kyle’s prior work experience sharpened his understanding of the critical role a municipal grant consultant performs in addressing a community’s needs at the local level. Kyle’s wide-ranging formal education as a triple major in Political Science, Geography and Global Studies, in addition to his prior work experience, allows him to find nuanced solutions to complex problems.

Maysan Varoqua, Director of Education

Maysan Varoqua, a Director at Bruno Associates, works closely with several Boards of Education throughout the State of New Jersey.  Together with her excellent leadership and writing skills, Maysan has secured funding for a variety of different programs and projects for schools. Maysan strives to get the most out of grant funding for students and staff to ensure they are properly equipped with the resources needed to expand or begin projects at their school. Maysan is passionate about being a part of the ever-changing education world and has guided districts to the best grant opportunities available that match their specific needs. She is a firm believer of preparing today’s youth with the best education they can possibly receive, as they are this country’s future leaders and innovators. Maysan has an intuitive feel for the grant writing process and is proactive with any project given to her. Maysan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from William Paterson University and has a certification in grant writing from the County College of Morris.

Victoria Zurla, Associate

Victoria Zurla brings a keen understanding of the inner workings of public education to Bruno Associates. She joined the team after serving four years as an educator in the New Jersey Public School System. Her hands-on approach helps her accurately assess and target the needs of clients, as well as enhances the strong rapport she builds with each of them. She has experience and training in New Jersey Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Prevention, as well as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. Victoria specializes in grant services at the County, State, and Federal level, with experience in projects related to transportation improvements, Community Development, and law enforcement and fire-related grants. Her devoted work ethic and articulate writing skills allow her to effectively communicate on behalf of clients to gain funding in a wide-range of areas. Victoria holds an undergraduate degree in English, as well as a dual-degree Masters degree in Teaching English and Students with Disabilities from Montclair State University.

Stephanie Gundermann, Director

Stephanie Gundermann is a Director at Bruno Associates Inc. She graduated with a MA in English from The College of New Jersey. Stephanie has a passion for the nuances of language and organization. Prior to working for Bruno Associates, Stephanie worked for a construction company and a library, where she experienced how grants benefit the local community. A product of a small-town upbringing, Stephanie witnessed the impact local politics has on each member of the community. Stephanie is committed to improving the quality of life in each of her clients communities through dedicated proposal delivery and grant consulting.

Margaret Morse, Associate

In her role as Grant Writer, Maggie works directly with clients on concurrent projects and programs as a primary client-facing consultant. She is responsible for researching, drafting, and submitting proposals that help communities secure vital funding to address environmental and sustainability issues, public health, economic and community development, education, etc. Prior to joining the firm, Maggie served as Research Associate at Millennium Strategies, LLC where she familiarized herself with imperative funding opportunities at the local, state, federal, and philanthropic level. In college, she served as Treasurer then President of the Anthropology Club as well as Content Writer for the Kentucky Kernel at the University of Kentucky, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies and Minor in Anthropology. Maggie is an advocate of reform who believes in building healthy, perpetual relationships with her clients while conducting high-yielding business. She is proactive, versatile, and committed to success.

Alexa Reed, Associate

Alexa serves as a Grant Writer and Consultant for Bruno Associates. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with minors in Earth &  Planetary Sciences and English.  Alexa has experience in the environmental sector, particularly with non-profits both local to New Jersey and in Maryland. Prior to working with the firm, Alexa assisted with securing funding for environmental programs local to her college and saw first-hand the importance of grants and grant funding. Similarly, Alexa has a strong customer service background, focused on providing the best experience for clients. Alexa is reliable, motivated, and passionate.

 Bridget Kirk, Public Relations Specialist

Bridget Kirk recently joined Bruno Associates following her graduation from the University of Delaware. Bridget serves as Bruno Associates’ Public Relations Specialist, ensuring brand consistency across all accounts. Bridget fulfills her role by maintaining and adding to the firm’s existing positive public voice, identity, and image. Bridget writes and publishes grant award spotlights, press releases, and expands client awareness regarding the BAI Team’s performance and services. Bridget develops social media programs to help keep the public, along with the firm’s clients, informed on secured grant opportunities successfully obtained on behalf of New Jersey municipalities. She works closely with the firm’s directors throughout the grant application process to ensure maximum exposure to the public in her grant summaries. Bridget holds a degree in Public Relations and has previously interned in New York City at an established PR firm, allowing her to transfer her abilities to Bruno Associates, and provide quality service to the firm’s brand identity.

Jonathan Bruno, Corporate Counsel

Mr. Bruno serves as Bruno Associates’ Legal Counsel. His focus is reviewing the firms’ contracts with municipalities, school districts, housing authorities, and non-profit organizations. Jonathan has over a decade of experience throughout the state in municipal and contract law.  Jonathan is a graduate of Montclair Kimberly Academy and Lehigh University.

 

Charles Emala, Information and Research Specialist

Biography Coming Soon