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Fran Frazier: Spiritual Leader, Women’s Advocate, Heroine

From childhood, it was instilled in then Frances Curtis that her last name is a mantle to uphold with great pride and dignity. This expectation of excellence transferred directly into her academic performance as the Philadelphia native earned straight A’s throughout elementary and high school. 

Though she had outstanding academic success, Frazier chose an alternative and non-traditional career route upon her high school graduation. She had her sights set on becoming a volunteer. Her newfound passion came as a surprise to her parents, but she still accepted the calling. By the age of 18, Frazier was taking care of maternally deprived babies at Johns Hopkins University, and overcoming the challenges of living in a broken down convent and even being harassed by the KKK. 

Frazier was later introduced to the head of Norfolk State University’s Special Education program. Though a newly emerging field at the time, Frazier recalls working with the special needs community “just felt like the right thing.” She earned a cum laude Bachelor of Science in Special Education from Norfolk State University and a Master of Arts in Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Disorders from The Ohio State University, then gained employment as a special education teacher. By this time, she had been married and widowed within two years of meeting her husband. She “threw herself into her work and in volunteering,” fully immersing herself in philanthropic outreach in Columbus.   

Noticing an overwhelming gap in the fulfillment of the needs for Black women and girls in her community, Frazier created the “The Angel in You: Life Preparation for Girls’’ after-school program. The initiative reached over 1,000 girls, teaching them that they are the “lotus of their own control” and “girls of real power” as Frazier recalls. Later, at the invitation of a partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health, she conducted an in-depth research study, entitled “Placing Black Girls At Promise: Rise, Sister Rise Research Study.” The groundbreaking study identified the lived experiences of Black girls and received recognition locally, state-wide, and nationally. 

As the administrator for Cultural Initiatives for the Department of Human Services/Department of Job and Family Services, Frazier has spearheaded multiple state-wide programs supporting minority children and families. A decorated consultant for both the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Urban School Districts of Ohio, her “Safe Place” school survey has provided high school girls with trauma-informed programming. 

In 2015, Frazier founded the “Black Girl Rising, Inc. Think Tank” to provide a safe environment for young African American women as they analyze and discuss critical areas affecting their quality of life. As co-chair of the Columbus Commission on Black Girls, Frazier also assists in creating practices improving the vitality of Black women in Columbus and Central Ohio. 

“I have lived my life intuitively,” she says warmly. “I do and go where I feel led.”

Frazier holds a YWCA Woman of Achievement Award in Racial Justice for her profound innovation in cultural competency training and programming. She has received many honors and awards for her work, including Franklin County Children Services’ Community Award, the African American Leaders Achievement Award, and induction into History Makers. Her work is also included in the Library of Congress of the United States.

“I believe when you live out your purpose there’s no lack of anything,” she says. “It is all about obedience!” 

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