My journey provides me relentless curiosity, a talent for rich questions, and an ability to wrangle everything into a strategic vision so that your content accomplishes big, hairy goals.
“Fran is a highly professional creative with a versatile toolbox, a visionary mind and the ability to put the two to work for an outstanding result. This is exciting!”
My Story: The Short Version
If you look at my 25 years of experience, you’ll find there are several consistent themes:
- Storytelling is key. And research is confirming what I’ve seen throughout my career: that stories help people relate to and retain any data, any directive more effectively.
- I understand the fundamental importance of strategy and making sure it is the underpinning of any content, any storytelling.
- I’m a broadly skilled communicator and I love the process of making accessible to a wide variety of people complex ideas, issues and services.
- I am very organized and I find that to stay organized and on-track with a project, I am adept at establishing and managing along the way carefully-articulated expectations.
My Story: The Longer Version
I have deep roots in Durham, NC. My Dad was born here, my Mom grew up 75 miles away in Moore County, and I’ve lived here for most of my life. I remember the sweet and acrid smell of flue cured tobacco that hung over the heart of the Bull City and permeated the bricks of the 100-year-old warehouses that employed my uncle for nearly 40 years. I thrive on Durham’s indomitable spirit of entrepreneurialism – a spirit that my Dad embodied when he started and grew two of his own businesses and based them right here. I have watched Durham grow and flourish, fade and flounder and grow again in new and surprising ways. I love every bit as much Durham’s grit as I do its new, funky vibe.
I left the humidity and the pale yellow, summer-time sky of my childhood home to attend college in South coastal Maine. I found to my surprise that the Old North State and the Pine Tree State have a lot in common – beautiful landscapes, exquisite people, an inhospitable season or two, a funky city or two. And I found at Bowdoin College a perfect fit. I dove into the realms of theater and dance, I explored history, I wrote about how the events of the day impact the arts and vice versa, and I learned how to un-tame my curiosity.
Right after I graduated from Bowdoin, I headed for DC and landed at a new enterprise known as “C-SPAN”. What a perfect first stop! I got to exercise again my curiosity, I got to contribute in a variety of ways to an organization still in its building phase, and I got a first-rate, front-row lesson in civics. It was in DC that I learned how to ask questions.
After a quick detour back to Maine to enjoy my home-away-from-home and consider my next chapter, I decided to move back to North Carolina. I found my way to a state government agency that produced what was then the state version of C-SPAN – OPEN/net. I and my colleagues at OPEN/net helped other public agencies tell their stories and get the word out about the services and issues of government.
At OPEN/net, we used a variety of media, including live, statewide cable TV call-in programs to connect with the citizens of the state. We did that Ford Foundation award-winning work creatively and typically on a razor-thin budget. I worked with Governors, members of the NC General Assembly, the State Supreme Court, NC’s Congressional delegation and members of the Cabinet and Council of State. During my almost 20 years with OPEN/net, I learned – among other things – that I have a talent for connecting with people and helping them share their stories, even in the glare of studio lights, television cameras and live, on-air caller interactions.
As a producer, writer and manager of OPEN/net, I also found that I have a talent for organizing people, time and data for the purpose of creating generative dialogue. Both caller and studio guest were very capable of having productive, respectful, full-bodied conversations with one another if I put everyone around the table at ease, if I set the stage with well-researched background and rich questions, and then if I got the hell out of the way. I still use that methodology when I gather people to do the important work of storytelling.
I enjoyed other important stops after my time with OPEN/net. I worked with the NC Department of Insurance to craft trainings that help citizens understand Medicare; and at a local community foundation to help manage the leadership communities there. I put to good use my capacity to learn quickly, to make information accessible, and to help people operationalize their good work.
I’m a consultant now, and this latest chapter feels different. This is the chapter where I put everything to work for the client more holistically. In this iteration, I’ve moved from transactional to collaborative, from service to servant. The client with whom I have the most success is the person who comes to me and says “Fran, I want to get all the way to there. Let’s talk about how we might do that.” Then in consideration of those big, hairy goals, I bring to bear the untamed, relentless curiosity, a coral of both the big think-y questions and the back-to-basics questions, deep, reflective listening, and a capacity to gently wrangle all that rich, messy work into a clear, strategic vision and organized plan for implementation. Then, perhaps I’ll help create some of the content needed to get to that big, hairy goal. But once my client and I arrive at that lofty accomplishment, we do so as collaborators – thought partners and servants to the goal, rather than as client and transactional service provider.
I look forward to serving your vision. Let’s talk. I can’t wait to learn more about that big, hairy goal.