InterView – Bryan Justin Marks

By Chris Murphy

We are at a very strange point in time. There are big tech companies creating alternate worlds and the world is very divided, but where we are all one is how we can make our own community better. We are better when we work together, we are educated, we learn about each other and celebrate our diversity and create something better. This is one of the foundations of Love Modesto.

Bryan Justin Marks is a lifelong resident of the Central Valley and has spend most of his professional life working in higher education. Bryan believed In order to change the world or help the world evolve we must continue to change and evolve ourselves. Bryan often says “we must go inward before we go outward”. The quest for knowledge and the desire to be a lifelong leader are the cornerstones of who Bryan is. Bryan is a product of local education from attending Beyer, Elliott and Johansen High Schools to his time at Modesto Junior College and CSU Stanislaus. Bryan also holds advanced degrees and trainings from Brandman University and the University of Southern California. At the heart of who Bryan is as a person is his passion for equity and diversity work as well as community engagement. “Bryan believes there is a place for us all in this world”. Bryan is now in the third season of his career serving as the Executive Director of Love Stanislaus County the organization that oversees Stanislaus County volunteers days in multiple cities such as Modesto, Patterson and Waterford just to name a few. Bryan calls Modesto home and is married to the love of his life Sandy and has a son Kyler who will graduate from MJC this year and transfer to CSU Long Beach. Let’s meet Bryan.

ModestoView: You have always been in the education world, what motivated you to choose this path?
Bryan Justin Marks: Actually, the first of my three professional seasons was politics. I hold a Bachelor’s in Political Science with a concentration in Constitutional Law. However, the longest part of my career to date has been education. I love the valley and I had a very nontraditional path to obtaining my educational goal. I was success because of all the people who mentored me, guided my and believed in me. I felt for education was my calling for a season way to give back. I love working with young minds.

MV: We have so many great local education opportunities, how can they be better connected to our communities and our social programs?
BJM: Many of those who seek out educational opportunities in the valley come from a background where the understanding of the educational system is not common, especially in higher education. Getting connected starts with getting comfortable asking questions. So many college students are first generation students who are blazing their own path. They need to get to know their teachers (not just the “cool ones”, make sure you are seeing an academic advisor and get involved on your campus. Students are almost 90% more likely to meet their educational goals if they are involved in just one extra-curricular activity.

MV: Love Modesto began in 2009 and is now much bigger. How many communities are you now serving?
BJM: We serve 9 communities (Ceres, Escalon, Empire, Keyes, Modesto, Oakdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Turlock and Waterford) in Stanislaus County. We hope to be adding a few more in 2023. The vision of our founder Jeff Pishney has taken us from a small grassroots effort to over 100 cities across United Stated wiring with our sister nonprofit Love Our Cites to immolate the worked started in Modesto. We should ALL be really proud of that.

MV: Love Stanislaus County also includes Love our Schools and the local teachers, how can we better support our local educators all year long?
BJM: LSC actually includes Love Our Neighbors and Love Our Kids in addition to Love Our Neighbors as programs of LSC. Love Our Neighbors helps connect volunteers to volunteer opportunities and comes alongside organizations to do work with neighborhoods, veterans, senior citizens mental health issues and homelessness, Love Our Kids right now works directly with foster youth and foster families but is also getting involved in youth empowerment and youth leadership, Love Our Schools is about loving on kids and helping remove barriers around them through connecting business, churches and community who live close in proximity to a school.

MV: People like to get their hands dirty and do something, that seems to be the main attraction to Love Modesto. How has this event become so popular?
BJM: I don’t know if they always love getting their hands but I do know that more people than not love our city and are willing to do anything to help. We see year round the best of what Modesto has to offer. Members of our community constantly rise to the occasion to love on their city, love their neighbor and show what it means to a community, this makes Love Modesto the perfect event for Modesto. It sparks the love of our city and inspires people to be involved year eround.

MV: What advice would you give someone that wants to get started in community service and volunteerism?
BJM” Jump in, don’t wait for the perfect time. We have hundreds of inspirational churches, nonprofits and schools all whom need help and none of whom can do everything themselves. When we all pick up a piece the load is lighter.

MV: This year, Love Modesto and the other Love cities around Modesto will be back in person with the rally and a big get together and even a pancake breakfast.
BJM: Yes, we are VERY excited to be BACK!!! We have missed being together as a community. Like many, we pivoted during the pandemic but nothing replaces being downtown, laughing, smiling and loving our city and one another. We are very thankful to the North Modesto Kiwanis who will host a pancake breakfast with all the proceeds going towards Love Modesto. Folks can go to to sign up for Love Modesto, purchase t-shirts and pancake breakfast tickets.

MV: What is something that people may not know about Love Modesto?
BJM: That it is still a grass roots event 100% funded by donations, That is takes a staff of 6 and many volunteers to hold the event, it takes a crew of 12-15 volunteers to put up 150 signs and it takes 70-100 volunteers to host projects. Additionally, its humble success has sparked a movement across the country. Most importantly it is a catalyst to being involved in the community year round, its far great than just one day.

MV: What do you love most about your job?
BJM: The people. From a deeply committed board to our CEO Jeff Pishney and his gift to dreaming, to our team who leads with passion and with their hearts, to all the people in the community who lift up this work, embrace it and promote love. Our focus with LSC is about Thinking Love, Inspiring Love, Giving Love.

MV: What do you enjoy most about living here in our area?
BJM: I love Graffiti Night, Jeremy Renner movies, Elvis impersonators at A & W while drinking root beer out of a frosty mug. I love Modesto Nuts nuts baseball games, I love Mr. T’s donuts, I love events at MJC, I LOVE LOVE our taco trucks and Grub Hub.I love hot summer nights when the sun sets, I love all the way you can get involved. I love Love Modesto.I love these things because they are the special and iconic parts of a place I was born and love with all my heart.

MV: What do you think are the next steps for Love Modesto?
BJM: We realize that post pandemic life will never be a replica of pre pandemic life. What the means for Love Modesto is working harder to reengage our community, share our story, and hopefully see more people return to giving back and volunteering. Across the nonprofit world we are seeing a struggle in getting volunteers so the biggest next step is getting people to return to Love Modesto and inviting in those who have not yet experienced it.

MV: Describe the perfect Modesto day?
BJM: A walk on the Virginia Trail in the morning with my wife and dog Jojo with bright warm sunshine and puffy white clouds, eating dinner on a patio with my wife and friends and bumping into friends everywhere we go and finishing the day with some ice cream

MV: Finally, what we all want to know, Beatles or Stones?
BJM: Neither. It’s all about the King Elvis Presley

You can reach out to Bryan at<>
You can sign up for a Love Modesto project at
Love Modesto rally will be at 10th & I Streets at 7 am – April 30

Posted in: news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.