Post Content

Elsie Frank

Elsie Frank: Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Advocate, Activist, Humanitarian

March is Women’s History Month, a time to acknowledge the significant contributions women make to their families, their businesses, their communities, and social progress. This month, we remember Elsie Frank, a woman whose name we recognize on our Office of Elder Affairs conference room and whose life was dedicated to those kinds of contributions across the Commonwealth. Her life long passion even influenced her children, former Congressman Barney Frank and Democratic strategist Ann Lewis, to follow in her footsteps.

Incredibly, Elsie Frank’s career as an advocate did not begin until the age of 70. At the time, Elsie Frank may have looked like everyone’s grandmother: short white hair, friendly face, sensible shoes. But, she certainly didn’t act like it. In her son’s 1982 Congressional campaign, Elsie starred in campaign ads and Fourth Congressional District political events. Elsie could be found regularly advocating for the need for affordable housing and assisted living residences for seniors. She spoke at forums on single payer healthcare and was an early mover working to promote the goals of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Elsie’s political voice could be heard in from Washington to Boston; and in fact, both Governor Weld and President Clinton sought her personal advice on political issues.

Perhaps most significantly, Elsie was an active member and later President of the Massachusetts Association of Older Americans (MAOA). It was there that she lobbied for a law establishing assisted living facilities in Massachusetts, and the development of regional Aging Service Access Points (ASAPs). Elsie firmly believed that any older person could and should be engaged and involved in issues they cared about

The depth of Elsie’s impact on others can be measured by the number of agencies and organizations that use her name.  Elsie was a founder of HEARTH and, today, the Elsie Frank House is home to nine homeless older women. The Elsie Frank Walk raises money for Kit Clark Senior Services,  PFLAG offers the Elsie Frank Scholarship for the high school seniors who promote understanding about gay and lesbian students, and MAOA named its annual award, the Elsie Frank Elder Advocacy Award, in her honor.

At the Executive Office of Elder Affairs we are proud of our Elsie Frank conference room, which reminds us of her determination and her belief that age was no barrier to improving her own and other lives.

Written By:


Secretary of the Office of Elder Affairs

Deputy Communications Director, Office of Health and Human Services


Communications Fellow

Tags:

Recent Posts

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month posted on Oct 15

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In 1994, after four years of intense investigation and testimony, Congress concluded  that there was a pervasive problem of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking among women in the United States.  As a result,the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed.  This legislation  was the   …Continue Reading October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month posted on Oct 6

October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month

This month, Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz announced an infant safe sleep campaign focused on the importance of infant safe sleep practices and promoting ways to reduce risks associated with Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), the leading cause of death among infants between   …Continue Reading October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month

Statewide Listening Sessions: Services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Late-deafened Adults and Children posted on Sep 25

Statewide Listening Sessions: Services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Late-deafened Adults and Children

Join Heidi Reed, Commissioner of Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH), DHILS providers, the Disability Policy Consortium, and the Disability Law Center at a listening session in communities across the Commonwealth to share experiences with state services for deaf, hard of hearing, and late-deafened adults   …Continue Reading Statewide Listening Sessions: Services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Late-deafened Adults and Children