With a decade of experience in Buffalo's non-profit arena, working in the realm of HIV/AIDS, with youth, for LGBTQ+ communities of color, and policy and research, Kathryn is passionate about creating a Buffalo that is built and thrives for all of its residents.
Lived experience and the opportunity to work with various communities has given Kathryn the insight and experience to meet people where they are and to respect that they are experts in their own lives. Because of this, Kathryn wholeheartedly believes in community at the center of decisions around policy making, as those closest to the issues know how to resolve them.
This is in part why Kathryn is so impassioned to run for the University District Common Council seat. Buffalo has been and continues to be a diverse yet segregated city with noticeable gaps of wealth and access. Now more than ever residents need proactive and thoughtful policy to protect and promote social justice and equity.
Focused on a holistic approach to the issues of the City, Kathryn brings the opportunity for action, a new perspective and a critical lens to help our City grow for the benefit of all of its residents, particularly as it continues into its 'Renaissance.' Her experience, drive, passion and keen desire to work for and with communities makes her the right choice for the University District Common Council member.
Kathryn Franco was raised in Buffalo from the age of four and attended Buffalo Public Schools for her foundational schooling. She graduated from Hutch Tech High School where she then went to Canisius College with the help of the Urban Leadership Learning Community scholarship.
There she pursued her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology.
During her undergraduate career, Kathryn worked at a Federally Qualified Health Center. Starting as a receptionist, Kathryn soon found herself interning for the health center's Social Work department where she ran a Young Woman's Self Esteem group.
Once she finished school she was offered a position in the health center's HIV/AIDS department where she provided education and outreach along with HIV testing and counseling. Much of her work was focused on the East Side of Buffalo specific to the 14215 zip code where access to health care and health disparities are seen and hit the hardest.
From this work, Kathryn further pursued her career around HIV/AIDS in Uganda, Africa at a local health center where she served as a volunteer in Peace Corps, coordinating community programs along with continued education around HIV/AIDS.
After years of building her career, Kathryn returned to school and pursued a Master's degree in Social Work and Public Health to supplement her years of work in Buffalo's non-profit sector. During her time working she consistently witnessed the multiple factors that contributed to individual and community outcomes. Her schooling reinforced these experiences.
To support her graduate studies, Kathryn worked as a substitute teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools, subbing in schools across the City such as Highgate Heights and Olmsted. Here she again bore witness to the inequities that continue to impact our City, particularly our youth. While working in the schools, Kathryn was inspired by the relationships she developed with students and staff and soon after received a certificate in Restorative Justice circle training to continue building rapport.
The pursuit of social justice and potential for community driven solutions are why Kathryn returned to school to be able to continue working with communities and connecting them to resources, empowering them to create their own outcomes. She is now a Licensed Social Worker working at a non-profit law firm as a Data Analyst focused on foreclosure prevention and leads a coalition of prominent local organizations to promote bank reinvestment in the Buffalo-Niagara region.