40 Under 40 The Class of 2014

Francia Wisnewski

Regional Program Manager, Raising a Reader Massachusetts, age 37

Francia-Wisnewski-01Francia Wisnewski takes pride in doing all she can to increase literacy and help families and children. “I’m a firm believer that providing high-quality, enriching opportunities for young children is critical for laying a strong foundation for their long-term health, well-being, and success,” she said, “and I am passionate about advocating for and promoting legislation that supports families and children.”

Passionate … and busy. The regional program manager for Raising a Reader is a 2008 Schott Fellow, an elected member/chair of the Greenfield School Committee, member of the Greenfield Democratic Town Committee, a three-time winner of Community Action’s Caught in the Act Award, an advisory board member of District Attorney David Sullivan’s Franklin County Children’s Advocacy Center, a 2012 participant in the Early Educator Fellowship Initiative, and a 2012 Emerge Massachusetts Fellow.

Wisnewski grew up in Colombia and worked as a biology teacher before moving to this country to pursue a master’s degree in education at UMass Amherst. After settling in Greenfield, she immersed herself in volunteer work and selflessly continues to give time and effort to causes she believes in. “You have to do whatever you can to be part of the community, and I enjoy being involved in an inclusive process,” she said, adding that she believes it is important to educate children to their full potential and raise the quality of life for families.

The wife of Mark Wisnewski and mother of Luke, 11, and Corin, 8, she was a developmental specialist for the REACH Early Intervention program at ServiceNet in Franklin County and served as coordinator of Family Center Programs for Community Action in Greenfield for 10 years before assuming her current job at Raising a Reader.

Wisnewski said her work at the Family Center, which included promoting literacy events, taught her that she could make a difference and empower others. “I learned the value of networking and building support,” she explained. “There are many people with voices that are unheard who just need a little push.”

She knows communities will always face challenges. “But when they come, you need to be flexible, make the best of everything, and move forward.”

— Kathleen Mitchell

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