Emerald Asset Management, Inc., the Emerald Foundation and the Lancaster Barnstormers are pleased to announce that Fran Rodriguez of the Lancaster County Community Foundation has been named as the April “Hometown Hero” for her service to our community.
In 2004, Fran was appointed by Governor Edward G. Rendell to serve on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA). She served as Co-chair of the Commission from 2009 to 2011. GACLA’s mission is to ensure that the Latino community is afforded the opportunity to continue to prosper. Fran’s seven years in state government was by far her greatest professional accomplishment in that she represented Latinos proudly with a strong sense of commitment and passion.
Community engagement and social issues have played an integral part of Fran’s success in building and managing sustainable programs. In 2005, during her term as President of Latina Professionals of South Central Pennsylvania, she negotiated with state government agencies and local non-profit organizations, securing funding for a qualitative study addressing factors affecting the socioeconomic and educational status of Latinos in Lancaster County. The 2007 publication, Latinos in Lancaster County: Voices, Perspectives, Myths and Realities, served as a valuable resource for organizations seeking to enhance and improve programs. Fran’s experience in motivating and fostering partnerships has evolved into effective alternatives with extraordinary societal rewards.
As a result of the 2007 Latino study, Fran founded two multi-faceted programs in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Lancaster ADELANTE Education Committee, established in 2008, seeks to serve as a catalyst for students, parents, educators and members of the community. Her vision for this committee was to focus on transforming the Lancaster community into a learning hub by proactively identifying innovative educational strategies. The Lancaster Education Forum, now in its ninth year, has provided an annual platform for students, parents, educators and community leaders, and is attended by local and statewide groups.
In 2009, Fran founded the Latino Empowerment Project (LEP), which seeks to improve the interpersonal skills of Latinos from all walks of life, helping individuals to become leaders on the job, in their communities and with their families. Both projects distinctly address concrete needs within broad community sectors and continue to receive financial support and statewide recognition.
Fran is most excited about the growth and future of the LEP. She created this initiative to instill a better understanding for community involvement and professional development among Latinos, especially because they are not appropriately represented on local boards and/or serve in public office.
She served as President of the League of Women Voters of Lancaster County May 2015 to December 2016, and is the first Latina ever to serve in this capacity. Fran stepped down as president to pursue a political run; however, she withdrew her candidacy for personal reasons. She will step back into her role as president in May 2017.
The League is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. Fran fulfilled her goal of engaging young women and men to become members to reignite an organization that has functioned within certain circles, but without the energy and spirit of our entire community. Fran appointed eight new board members, all under the age of 40 and representing the nonprofit sector, finance/banking and higher education. She firmly believes that this generation is ready to have a seat at the table where their voices can finally be heard — NOW. Moreover, Fran’s dream is to engage as many women of color to consider running for public office. Fran is a columnist for La Voz Lancaster and served on LNP’s inaugural Editorial Board.
Fran is a Program Officer with the Lancaster County Community Foundation. She holds an Associate of Arts degree in Paralegal Studies from Harrisburg Area Community College as well as a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University. She has more than 15 years of experience working with non-profit organizations in Lancaster County. She enjoys speaking at local and statewide educational programs for students, parents, and educators. Fran is the proud mother of Ava Villafane, who lives in California.