BLI Graduation Year: 2014
Franziska Racker Centers
Director of Family Resources
Tell us briefly about yourself and please update your classmates on your personal/professional experiences since graduating from BLI:
I started out on a new career path during my BLI experience. I began working with Franziska Racker Centers, an organization that provides support and services for people with developmental disabilities. My wonderful BLI classmates influenced this decision and encouraged me to follow my heart. Becoming a part of the Racker Centers team has been a life changing experience. My own son now has the support he needs to be happy and healthy, which is invaluable in itself. After only 11 months as the Assistant Director, I became the Director of the Family Resource Program. I now oversee a team of nearly 250 people working to make the lives of people with disabilities meaningful and fulfilling. I have had several opportunities to continue developing my leadership skills, and mentor others along the way. I am very happy with my career and family.
Favorite books/movies (feel free to provide short explanation/commentary):
Leadership and Self Deception – what a great book!
Current and Past Notable Civic Activities (boards, organizations, [member/officer]):
Member of the Benevolent Order of the Elks
Interests/Hobbies (sports, music, travel, etc.):
Spending time with my family, crafting, cooking, riding 4wheelers, kayaking, art and photography
How did your BLI experience change your perception of the community?
BLI was an incredibly eye opening experience. I learned about so many businesses and industries I never knew existed in our area. I have visited a few of them since my visit with BLI. There have been so many conversations with my family, friends and colleagues that have brought me back to my BLI experience. I have so much more knowledge of our community I did not have before that I can now share with others.
How did your BLI experience motivate you to become more involved in the community?
The BLI experience was motivating and encouraged me to want to be more a part of my community. Our class project of building a food pantry allowed us to give back, not just in the short-term, but continually to help feed a hard working community. It made me want to give back even more to continue the momentum. I spent time making others smile by visiting with children as Mrs. Claus among other holiday favorites and collecting donations for less fortunate families.
What was your most memorable BLI activity/moment?
Certainly visiting the Broome County jail was the most memorable experience. But the memories that stand out the most are the times spent with my fellow BLIers during our carpooling adventures. So many laughs and genuine comradery.
What was the most valuable benefit to you from your BLI experience?
The most valuable benefit I gained from my BLI experience was gaining an understanding about how all the businesses and industries contribute to making our community great. We often focus on so much negative, but BLI focused on the positive things happening all around us. There is so much going on behind the scenes and an abundance of people that work silently every day doing things that have a lasting impact and make our community a great “home”.
What “nugget of wisdom” do you have for your fellow BLI alum?
Follow your passion and dare greatly. Life is too short to not follow your heart and trust that it will lead you to where you ought to be.