Stephanie B. Francis
President of the Fruitridge Manor Neighborhood Association & Graduate Career and Development Director at Sacramento State University
Stephanie Francis is a third generation Sacramentan who cares deeply for her community. She works tirelessly to make sure the community is informed about public safety, developments on Stockton Blvd and is passionate about connecting neighbors to their city and state leaders, liaison between city and state. She has worked hard to combat homelessness and was instrumental in the development of Dr. Richard Pan's SB 481 to provide affordable housing at the site of the former San Juan Motel along Stockton Boulevard.
Tell us a little about yourself
I live in the Fruitridge Manor area. My family migrated from New Orleans to the Oak Park and Fruitridge/Avondale areas around 70 years ago. At Occidental College in Los Angeles, I studied history of Latin America and race, class and gender in the U.S. and played basketball. I lived 10 years in the Baltimore/D.C. area to further in my studies in African Diaspora history and Morgan State University and eventually earned an MBA at Southeastern University in D.C. I worked for national nonprofits and my alma mater before returning to Sacramento 13 years ago. I now have a teenage son and work at Sacramento State.
How are you making a difference in your community?
I've been involved in a lot of volunteer initiatives and efforts to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and schools. I've served on two PTAs and School Site Councils in the Sacramento City Unified School District, and formerly served on the Sacramento Building Healthy Communities Steering Committee and the board of NeighborWorks Sacramento. I taught Sunday school for three years at St. Peter-All Hallows Church and also have coordinated a community resources fair at the church's International Festival for five years. I am the currently the Fruitridge Manor Neighborhood Association President, serve on the Sacramento Promise Zone Resident Council and Small Business & Economic Development Work Group, and am on the founding board of a finance education nonprofit called Project Supply Finance. I'm passionate about equity, education, entrepreneurship, quality of life, human relations, and helping people realize their highest potential.
What inspires your community efforts?
Why is the work important to you? I'm inspired by everyday people like single mothers and fathers, young people, people who have been denied access and opportunity, but who persevere, stand up, and take initiative to make a difference that not only impacts their lives, but the lives of others.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
At Sacramento State, I'm proud of establishing the MBA Impact Consulting Program and advising the MLK Business Resource Group. MBA Impact Consultants are graduate business students who engage with nonprofits, public agencies or businesses in problem-solving projects that support local economic and community growth initiatives in such areas as redevelopment, workforce development, strategic planning, business incubation, fundraising, and marketing. The MLK Business Resource Group is a campus student club initiated a year ago by African American students to create a pathway to connect them and their peers with alumni mentors and career readiness, social entrepreneurship and leadership development opportunities. On the personal side, I'm a proud sole parent of a wonderful son with character, intellect, a sense of justice, and goals and aspirations far beyond those I had at his age. Strong family support from my parents, siblings, and extended family have been integral.
What kind of lessons do you think are important to instill in future generations?
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be? There are many, but one of the issues I'm currently tackling with fellow community members are some of the vacant and abandoned properties in the neighborhood, especially those under government jurisdiction. They attract blight, dumping, crime, and deter positive investment. One such property is the lot where the San Juan Motel was condemned and demolished nearly 20 years ago. It was through my involvement with Ubuntu Green and Sacramento Building Healthy Communities that I joined in advocating for the site to be addressed, and our neighborhood association kept this on Councilmember Guerra's agenda. He worked to find a solution with Senator Pan, who introduced SB481, which would make it possible for the land to be developed into much-needed housing. I'm optimistic that this will be the catalyst for positive change in our community, and I attribute this to persistent advocacy from residents.
How do you decompress?
To decompress, I enjoy playing board and card games with family and friends and Sunday dinners at my brother's - especially when he grills ribs with his signature rub or serves up a delicious pot of gumbo. I enjoy going to Kings games when I have the opportunity, but nothing tops being a fan at one of my son's activities, whether it is a basketball game or jazz band performance.