As executive director of The Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation (CMSF), Franca (Loran Scholar ’90) leads a team of colleagues dedicated to discovering and investing in young people of exceptional overall promise. She is ultimately responsible for all areas of operations, including selection and stewardship of scholars, fund development, fiscal management, and human resources.
Franca is a leading expert on merit scholarships in Canada. She was selected as one of the first Loran Scholars and served as associate director of the program from 1995-1997. After completing a master’s degree, she brought her knowledge of and passion for merit scholarships to the public sector by designing and implementing the Millennium Excellence Awards program of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, serving as its director from 1999-2004. She has written and presented on the issue of merit scholarships in Canada and participated in the development of merit award programs, including the The W. Garfield Weston Awards.
Franca is committed to public service in its various forms. She serves on the board of College Montrose Children’s Place. An advocate for the value of volunteer service, especially by young people, she served as vice-chair of the board of directors of Volunteer Canada and as chair of its public policy committee. She spent a year as a legislative intern at the Ontario Legislative Assembly and worked as an assistant producer on TV Ontario’s Fourth Reading during the 1995 provincial election. Franca also worked as a fundraiser for Brampton Caledon Community Living, a non-profit organization that, in partnership with families and the community, helps people with developmental disabilities lead enriched and meaningful lives.
Franca grew up in Sicily and immigrated with her family to Toronto in the 1980s. She holds a BA from University of Waterloo in political science and French and an MA from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. She is the author of “Recognizing Excellence? Merit Scholarships in Canada”. In 2013, she was one of 34 women named a Fellow of the International Women’s Forum.