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Albert Bryan Jr. is the ninth Governor of the United States Virgin Islands, since 2019. Photo: Ebony Magazine

Albert Bryan Jr.'s Early Life and Professional Career

Albert Bryan Jr. is the eldest son born to Albert and Genevieve (Pilgrim) Bryan. Born on February 21, 1968, on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, he and his four brothers, Troy, Robert, Andre, and Alrick, lived with their parents in the historic St. Thomas neighborhood of Savan, according to Ballotpedia.

After graduating from St. Dunstan’s Episcopal High School in 1985, Governor Bryan matriculated at Wittenberg University in Ohio and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1989. Governor Bryan also earned a Master of Arts degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of the Virgin Islands in 2003.

Governor John de Jongh appointed Bryan as the Commissioner of Labor of the Virgin Islands in 2007; he served in that role until de Jongh's term ended in 2015 when he returned to the private sector. Bryan served as CEO and President of Aabra Group, a consulting firm, and Master Strategies, a recruiting firm. He also was executive director of the Virgin Islands chapter of Junior Achievement.

Albert Bryan Jr.'s Political Career

Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands (2019-present)

Bryan was elected as governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands in November 2018. He defeated incumbent Governor Kenneth Mapp in a runoff election on November 20, 2018. Bryan assumed office in January 2019.

Commissioner of labor (2007-2015)

In 2007, Gov. John P. de Jongh, Jr. appointed Bryan as commissioner of labor. He served in this role until 2015.

Albert Bryan Jr.'s Personal Life

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Gov. Bryan with his family on their anniversary. Photo: Twitter

Yolanda Cabodevilla Bryan spent her early years in Puerto Rico and New York. St. Croix, U.S.Virgin Islands became her home during her formative years of education and is where she met and married Governor Bryan. She and Governor Bryan have two daughters, Aliyah and Sumayah and a beloved dog, Coby Bryan. Bryan’s have been married for 20 years.

The Virgin Islands’ First Digital Governor

In this unprecedented moment, Gov. Bryan has dedicated himself to governing in the here-and-now, but also to planning for a post-COVID future.

“I have always been a firm believer that the government must be flexible and adaptive to the ever-changing needs of the community,” he says. “During this pandemic, governments have had to strike a very delicate and often difficult balance between protecting public health, preserving our economies, and avoiding unnecessary infringement on individual liberties. Those governments that are innovative, flexible, and adaptive have weathered this crisis better than others that are not.”

Gov. Bryan, a nationally described digital leader, has made important strides in bringing the benefits of technology to the islands. He has leveraged those benefits to see the population through the pandemic and keep the economy afloat. High impact technology initiatives by Gov. Bryan’s administration include:

Instituted a government transparency website (http://transparency.vi.gov/), which lists and makes public all financial transactions and payments to vendors.

Introduced the capability for online Identification Card Processing and Vehicle Registration for the first time at the Virgin Islands Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Initiated an online contracting module allowing for complete digital processing of government contracts.

Improved the online systems for applying for and renewing business licenses in the territory, dramatically improving the processing and approval time.

Earlier this year, Gov. Bryan spearheaded a partnership with Google aimed at bringing locally relevant, high-quality COVID information to Virgin Islanders on a daily basis.

“In a nutshell, we have harnessed the best that technology has to offer on behalf of the health and safety of our residents,” says Gov. Bryan. The new partnership with Google has been protecting Virgin Islanders from fake news, price gouging, fraud, and spammers who prey on Internet users, especially the elderly.

The governor also negotiated an agreement with tech giants to bring low-cost hardware and software to the USVI public schools. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding is helping to level the technological playing field, bringing all of the islands’ students up to speed and preparing them to learn, work, and thrive in the 21st century.

Gov. Bryan sees the tech industry as key to the islands’ social and economic progress. Businesses need high-speed connectivity to carry out daily operations and interact with the global marketplace. Determined to create a business-friendly environment in which local and global companies can thrive, he has put technology squarely at the top of his economic agenda.

Learning from Setbacks and Sharing Best Practices

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Interior asssistant Secretary Domenech Meets with Gov. Albert Bryan. Photo: US Department of the Interior

Gov. Bryan campaigned on a platform of change, and during his 20 months in office, he has delivered on his campaign promises. Beyond keeping the islands afloat during the pandemic, he has fought to reduce poverty and promote family well-being through vigorous rebuilding and repair efforts—still critically important in the aftermath of two back-to-back hurricanes in 2017—as well as a HUD-funded homeownership program and free college tuition at the University of the Virgin Islands, Ebony noted.

He and his Lieutenant Governor, Tregenza A. Roach, Esq., were instrumental in the passage of a law that provides free college tuition to students at UVI, which is not only the only Historically Black College and University outside of the 48 contiguous states, but also the only one in the nation that offers free tuition.

Re-invigorating tourism continues to be a top priority, along with attracting global businesses to the islands.

The governor subscribes to an approach to a social and economic policy called the resilience model, which is especially relevant for the islands of the world, vulnerable as they are to the effects of climate change. Climate-related disasters are expected to grow more intense, more frequent, and more devastating as the century unfolds.

“We cannot eliminate our residents’ exposure to the dangers posed by extreme weather events,” Gov. Bryan says, “but we can invest in what the World Bank calls resilient infrastructure. That means investing in long-term risk reduction initiatives before disasters strike, and in community, preparedness to minimize harm and economic loss.”

He further believes that the USVI is in a position to offer guidance and leadership to the world’s islands and other developing countries based on the resilience model, which he sees as both bold and protective. “It’s a sensible path to a prosperous future.”

A Strong Relationship with the Federal Government

For many years, the US Virgin Islands has had a strong presence in Washington, D.C., including a delegate in the US House of Representatives. Gov. Bryan and Delegate Stacey E. Plaskett work collaboratively and tirelessly with the White House and Congress for the Virgin Islands’ and other territories’ fair share of funding. Additionally, the governor’s Washington representative, Teri Helenese, serves as his liaison to the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as the local business community, and works on economic stimulus and development activities.

With the presidential election less than a month, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have an enthusiastic supporter in Gov. Bryan, a leader who shares their overall worldview, humanistic values, and commitment to democratic norms and institutions.

As it happens, Joe Biden’s adopted home is St. Croix, and he is a cherished Virgin Islander.

Harris is of Jamaican ancestry, making her candidacy especially meaningful for the Caribbean region. A Biden/Harris win would serve to mobilize the energies of the diverse peoples of the Caribbean, and their leaders, to great purpose.

In the primaries, the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands cast all of its votes for the Biden/Harris ticket.

Proud to be part of the coming Democratic wave, Gov. Bryan is a noteworthy example of the Party’s new generation of dynamic, innovative leaders.

For more information about governors in the U.S, please click here!

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