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Betty Francis

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Information about Betty Francis

Profile image of Betty Francis

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
State Government Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Steak, Potatoes (Mashed)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Turks And Caicos Islands
Favorite Quote:
Get Over Yourself.

Birthplace

Born:
1/11/1946
Birth Location:
Washington, District of Columbia

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
State Government Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Steak, Potatoes (Mashed)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Turks And Caicos Islands
Favorite Quote:
Get Over Yourself.

Birthplace

Born:
1/11/1946
Birth Location:
Washington
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Biography

Government lawyer and state government administrator Betty Hager Francis was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Her father, William Henry Hager, was a supply clerk for the United States Department of Treasury and a part-time carpenter, while her mother, Helen Brown Hager, was a homemaker and owner of a catering business. Francis and her siblings were raised in a devout Catholic home. Her childhood neighborhood exposed her to prominent African Americans such as Charles Houston and Edward Brooke, III, whose niece, Peggy Amos, was Francis’ best friend. In 1963, Francis graduated from high school at the Sacred Heart Academy where she headed the student council.

Francis attended Howard University on a four-year academic scholarship while also working in the Capitol Hill office of Indiana Senator Birch Bayh. She took a year off from college to work on the 1966 United States Senate campaign of Edward Brooke, III in Boston, Massachusetts. Francis got married shortly before graduating from Howard with her B.A. degree in political science in 1967. She then returned to Boston to work at Harvard University's Astrological Observatory. In 1971, she began working at the Harvard University Press, where her boss persuaded her to go to law school. She attended Suffolk University Law School at night, earning her J.D. degree in 1980.

From 1980 to 1981, Francis worked on family and probate cases as an attorney for Greater Boston Legal Services. She then worked at the Boston Housing Authority where she handled landlord-tenant disputes, civil rights issues and labor and personnel cases. In 1984, she was appointed Deputy Chief Counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Public Works. Three years later then-Governor Michael Dukakis appointed her Associate Commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Public Works. Francis directed the maintenance and operation of roads and bridges and worked on a variety of other transportation issues, including the multi-billion dollar project to build the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel (also known as "The Big Dig"). She also served as Chief Administrative Law Judge in that agency. Francis was elected the first President of the Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials, serving from 1988-1994.

In 1991, Washington, D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly appointed Francis as Director of Public Works, making her the first woman to hold this position. She received particular recognition for improvements to vehicle registration and parking management; for the initiation of curbside recycling; and for the successful reengineering and delivery of snow removal services within the District. Francis was named Director of Prince George's County, Maryland's Department of Public Works and Transportation in 1995. She was the first African American and the first woman to hold the position in the County's history. She led a dramatic increase in capital investment in the County’s transportation infrastructure, the development of its regional and community-based transit services and significant improvements in land development and emergency response operations. She served in this post until 2004. Francis has three children and two grandchildren.

Betty Francis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 18, 2004.

See how Betty Francis is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Betty Francis' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Betty Francis lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Betty Francis describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Betty Francis describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Betty Francis talks about her ancestors and her parents' courtship
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Betty Francis describes her earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Betty Francis describes her siblings and daily life during her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Betty Francis describes her childhood neighborhood of Petworth in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Betty Francis describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Betty Francis describes her experiences in elementary school in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Betty Francis describes her junior high school years at Sacred Heart School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Betty Francis describes her religious upbringing in the Roman Catholic faith
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Betty Francis describes her high school experiences at Sacred Heart Academy in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Betty Francis describes her experiences at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Betty Francis talks about her parents' pride in her academic achievements
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Betty Francis describes working on the 1966 U.S. Senate campaign of HistoryMaker The Honorable Edward Brooke
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Betty Francis talks about her impressions of the Civil Rights Movement and her ambitions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Betty Francis talks about graduating from Howard University in 1968 and moving to Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Betty Francis talks about her experiences at Suffolk University Law School in Boston
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Betty Francis describes her first jobs as a lawyer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Betty Francis talks about her tenure at the Massachusetts Department of Public Works
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Betty Francis talks about her tenure as director of public works for Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Betty Francis talks about her tenure at the Department of Public Works in Prince George's County, Maryland
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Betty Francis reflects on her achievements in her career in transportation administration
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Betty Francis considers the benefits and pitfalls of working with elected officials
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Betty Francis describes recent trends in the transportation industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Betty Francis talks about future plans for her career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Betty Francis talks about the adult lives of her siblings Beryl and William
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Betty Francis reflects on her relationships with family and friends
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Betty Francis considers her aspirations and things she wishes she had done differently
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Betty Francis describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Betty Francis describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Betty Francis talks about why she believes history is important
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Betty Francis considers the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Betty Francis offers advice for those looking to work in the transportation industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Betty Francis reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Betty Francis narrates her photographs