BAY RIDGE — John Quaglione has always aspired to help others. He is a civic leader who genuinely cares about his community, and relies on his faith and his family to help guide him in all that he does.
After spending nearly two decades in politics, serving as deputy chief of staff and press secretary to former State Sen. Marty Golden, Quaglione has taken on the role as deputy press secretary for DeSales Media, the communications arm of the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese.
DeSales publishes news and information from a Catholic point of view. Its properties include the NET TV cable network; New York’s Catholic news program, Currents News; and the Tablet, the only weekly Catholic newspaper in New York City.
Quaglione’s dedication to public service also includes two candidacies for 43rd District City Councilmember in 2017 and 2013, as well as recently being elected Republican district leader of the 46th Assembly District. He has served for four years as the board chair at St. Anselm Catholic Academy in Bay Ridge and is also active in the church’s parish council.
He is a graduate of Adelphi Academy High School in Bay Ridge, and he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and government from American University. As a college student, he served as an intern on Capitol Hill and also interned with “Meet the Press.”
While working for Golden, Quaglione was responsible for organizing community forums and special events, focusing on public safety, education, transportation, parks and health case management. He was also tasked with being a legislative and budgetary advisor and managing the district office staff of 10 people.
He received the Larry Morrish Community Service Award in 2017; the Guild for Exceptional Children Community Appreciation Award in 2016; the photo contest silver award from the Bay Ridge Community Council in 2015; and the Community Service Award from the Italian Board of Guardians in 2014; and was named a Brooklyn Rising Star by the Spectator and Home Reporter in 2013.
Along with his volunteer work for St. Anselm, Quaglione serves Brooklyn committee co-chair of the March of Dimes of New York.
Quaglione and his wife Kerry, an assistant principal at P.S. 127, participate every year in the March for Babies walk-a-thon to raise money for the March of Dimes.
The Quagliones call their walk-a-thon group “Team Natalie” after their older daughter, Natalie Grace, who was born two months premature in 2011. The couple also has a second daughter, Olivia.
Quaglione is currently completing a master’s of public administration degree at Baruch College.
He took the time to talk about his past accomplishments, his new role with the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese and how DeSales allows him the opportunity to express his conservative values and beliefs.
Spectator: Tell me about the transition from working in local politics to becoming the voice of conservative family values at the Catholic Diocese and DeSales Media.
Quaglione: Well, I’m very fortunate to have moved from something I love to something else that I love. When this opportunity arose to join the press office of the Brooklyn Diocese, in many ways it seemed like when they say God has a plan for you here. That’s what I was thinking about after my prior career had come to a close. There’s no better place to land than working with the bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn when you’re contemplating your next move and God’s plan for you. Working for DeSales has given me the opportunity to be part of an operation that is promoting the good things that the Catholic Church is doing, such as the new churches that are being renovated and the new school programs planned as we start the new school year. So it has connected the dots in my life.
Spectator: You still play a role in local government as the Republican Party district leader. Why is it so important for you to let your voice be heard in the community?
Quaglione: I think we’ve entered a period here in the community of a one-party system and I believe that there is a base of people that still hang onto some of the values, beliefs and desires that I share. I look at this position from more of a quality of life perspective for the neighborhood. For over 16 years, I’ve been able to help get that stop sign fixed that’s fallen down, get that graffiti removed and have that backed-up sewer cleaned up. And people still reach out to me and call upon me, so the opportunity to become the district leader allows me to continue to do what I thoroughly enjoy, and that’s serving the people.
Spectator: What are some of the pressing issues that the Catholic diocese has to deal with in the community today?
Quaglione: Personally speaking, I think we need to boost enrollment in our churches, we need to increase mass attendance and we need to increase enrollment in our schools. This position is allowing me an opportunity to get the message out about what is going on in the church and in the schools throughout Brooklyn and Queens in a way to encourage and entice those who have left the church to rediscover their faith and come back to the church and put their children back in our schools.
Spectator: Can you explain the correlation between conservative and Catholic values, and what they have in common?
Quaglione: Practicing Catholics such as myself are generally more in line with conservative family values and more traditional values, but that’s not necessarily the case for everyone. There are Catholics who have differences of opinion on different issues, and they’re accepted and welcomed to the church. It almost becomes a question of how people who may not necessarily believe in all the traditional values, how they can break that mold and join us too. But generally speaking, people who are worshippers and regular churchgoers tend to be more on the conservative values side.
Spectator: Are you encouraged by the state of Catholicism in Brooklyn today and what the future holds in store?
Quaglione: I think that the message here is that no other institution can say they’ve been around for over 2,000 years and have millions of people throughout the world following them and believing. What I would like to encourage is the vocation of the priesthood, attendance in our Catholic schools and for people to come back to church because there is a place for you, not just during the bad times when people need to call upon God, but there’s a place for them on Saturday or Sunday or at our daily masses in different churches, just to come and be a part of it and make it an aspect of their lives. It’s just so encouraging to know that the Catholic Church has been so relevant and important to so many people for so many years.