Fran Bridges also known as Dr. May Francis Bridges is a servant leader in West Jackson. Bridges has been able to cultivate and forge partnerships between community service organizations throughout Mississippi’s urban areas and beyond. With almost 30 years of combined community development and higher education experience, she has conducted research on the role of K-12 leadership in fostering parental engagement and is currently involved with the role of higher education in fostering a PK-20 seamless education continuum. Her multiple interest includes the search for resources and support systems to help increase the number of highly qualified teachers and an adequate pool of health care workers for challenged communities in our state.
Bridges’ love for developing human capital and helping people realize their dreams has been shaped by her family values and being reared as the daughter of cotton farmers. Her career began on the farm in Tylertown, MS. She was trained to be a homemaker. Her duties included, cleaning, cooking, sewing, babysitting, and working the fields; picking cotton, vegetables, and fruits to help meet the needs of the family. Fran is the 7th of 11 children of which eight are still living. She is known for extending Godly love to her many nieces and nephews as well as others.
Upon graduating from high school in May of 1970, Bridges enrolled at Jackson State University (JSU) as a business major and held her first public job as a student worker in the JSU Media Center. When the small allowance from her parents became a real challenge and a burden, she was able to become a para-professional with Jackson Public Schools. She worked with 1st graders in a special program; the Career Opportunities Program commonly known as COP. She added Early Childhood Education as a minor to her academic program, enabling her to meet the criteria for the COP program and to complete her education.
Her most notable volunteer activities since retirement include serving as a Co-Chair for the Campaign for Jackson Public School District that resulted in the successful $65 Million Bond that was approved by 86% of the voters. Other notable activities include the creation of a female community mentoring program for Hardy Academy of Career Exploration (HACE) Middle School. The project was built on the strength and insight PTPNA Members, the middle school students, parents and the entire workforce of Hardy. The project was supported by an inter-generational group comprised of retirees from education, industry, churches, and college students. Additionally, Bridges serves as the West Central Jackson Improvement Association’s Community Liaison for Blackburn Laboratory Middle School. She also serves as the City of Jackson Ward 5 representative for the Census, and she steadily works to increase voter registration and participation. Each Summer since 2014 Fran has been volunteering in the area of reading to support rising 7th Graders with the Devoted Dreamers Academy. Her most passionate project at this time includes enhancing the gateway entrances to JSU and the Pecan Tree Park Neighborhood Association.
Bridges earned the B. S., M.B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Jackson State University and is licensed by the State of Mississippi with a 4A certification in school leadership. Her Ph.D. in Educational Administration was conferred in 2004 with an emphasis in Higher Education. In 2002 when Dr. Joseph Martin Stevenson (Founding Director) had the vision for an Executive Ph. D. Program, Bridges was selected to work with him to bring the vision to fruition. She initially served as the Assistant Director 2004-2014. In December 2017, she retired from JSU as the Enrollment and Recruitment Manager for the Executive Ph.D. Program.
Since 1991 Bridges has been actively working in the West Jackson Community to create vibrant, long lasting safe productive neighborhoods. She is a member of St. Luther Missionary Baptist Church, serves with the ‘Greeters Ministry” and loves using her God given talents to help others. Her favorite scripture is, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path” Proverbs 3:6.