Home » Blog » Brent O’Leary for NYC Council

Brent O’Leary for NYC Council



I have been serving this community for the past 12 years, and for me service is not just what I do, it’s a way of life.  It’s always been important to me to not only create programs that address needs in the community, but in doing so, to bring together people and organizations to work together and support each other. 

I am currently the President of the Board at Woodside on the Move, where for many years we have worked to provide free or low-cost after school and summer programming including art, sports and education at schools throughout the district. We also provide housing and tenants right services for over 4,000 people a year and advocated for rent freezes including getting legislation passed to prevent landlords from unethically raising rents in rent stabilized apartments. 

I founded the Hunters Point Civic Association and have run it for the past 10 years.  There we have been fighting against overdevelopment and advocating for more schools, green space, traffic calming measures, and investing in better infrastructure and other quality of life improvements for the neighborhood. We hold monthly public meetings with government agencies and elected officials to advocate for community needs, hosted forums on community development, organized an annual Community Unity street fair and helped organize annual holiday celebrations.

I founded an annual Thanksgiving food drive where over the past 6 years, I have arranged for food contribution boxes to be put in buildings throughout Queens and Manhattan during the 3 weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, after which we collect, sort and distribute roughly 5000 pounds of food and critical items to our local food pantries in Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Woodside.

Along with local unions and community groups, I helped Build UP NYC in their mission to fight over-development and get large developers to contribute towards schools, more green space and infrastructure by having them sign onto Community Benefits Agreements. 

I volunteered for Citizenship Now in helping immigrants apply for US citizenship, and organized local accessibility canvasses across the district to digitally map which stores in the area are accessible to those with disabilities.

I also helped organize fundraisers for Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief, reuniting children separated at the border, the Floating Hospital, the Queensboro Dance Festival, and Boys & Girls Club. I helped Sunnyside Fire Relief to raise money for employees who worked at the stores which burned down on Queens Blvd.


When the coronavirus outbreak began, I knew that the food insecurity crisis would get much worse. So I volunteered with LIC Relief and delivered food to elderly and quarantined residents in Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Long Island City.

I then established two emergency food pantries, one in Sunnyside and one in Woodside. I established one with the Mosaic Church and another food pantry at the Woodside on the Move which together have served over 25,000 people in our community. I arranged with the federal farms to families program for truck loads of fresh food and vegetables to be delivered to food pantries all over Western Queens.

I delivered medical equipment and masks to Ravenswood Senior Center and Elmhurst Hospital at the height of the Covid crisis with the help of some friends, and provided food relief for Muslim mosques for Ramadan.

I get calls from many different organizations and people in the district who I have never met.  And while this surprises me sometimes as I am not an elected official, the fact that people would have heard and think to reach out to me help with their problems, I think of as an honor and I do my best to help.  


Brent’s grandparents both immigrated to New York City from Ireland and settled on 40th Street in Sunnyside in the 1930’s. Brent’s father, Frank O’Leary, a member of Local 3, grew up in Sunnyside and went to St. Theresa’s and Long Island City High School before serving in WWII and returning to run bars in Jackson Heights and then becoming a ticket clerk at Belmont race track. 

Brent was born in Jackson Heights, Queens.  He worked as a busboy, waiter and bartender and then went to Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut on financial aid working his way through college working in the college mailroom. He graduated in 1992 with a BA in History, Legal Studies minor and the award for the best speaker of Japanese at the College. Brent then went to Japan and taught English for a year at public middle schools in Aomori, Japan. Brent returned to earn his law degree from Boston University Law School and studied international law at Oxford University in England as an exchange student.

Brent is a top business and finance lawyer.  As Brent speaks fluent Japanese, which he learned in college, he worked for the New York-based law firm, White & Case, in their Tokyo Office.  Here Brent worked on many of the most complex business deals in Asia such as building power plants in India and infrastructure projects across Asia, helping countless companies form and obtain their licenses, and structuring their companies and their business deals.  In 2002, he was named one of the top in-house lawyers in Japan by Asia Legal Business for corporate and e-commerce transactions.

While in Japan, Brent organized charity events for Make-A-Wish and the Christina Noble Foundation which establishes schools for homeless children in Vietnam and Mongolia.  Brent also helped with translations for the Civil Liberties Union in Japan in its efforts against human trafficking.

In 2004, Brent was elected to the Democratic National Committee and was a Superdelegate for Obama in 2008. When Brent’s term on the Democratic National Committee ended in 2008, he was asked by the Obama Campaign to coordinate Irish Americans for Obama in NY which he did until the election by organizing canvasses into Pennsylvania and phone banks to Ohio.

Brent moved back to New York and settled in Long Island City in 2009 and since then, he has dedicated himself to community service. 

Brent believes his blue collar values along with his white collar skills will help him deliver the resources and services that his community deserves.

Leave a Comment