Social & Political Activist. Afro-Latina. Survivor. Advocate. Entrepreneur.
Francesca Menes was born in Miami, Florida. Her parents migrated from the beautiful “Pearl of the Antilles,” Haiti to the United States in the 1980s. She is a first-generation Haitian-Dominican-American and the youngest of 3 daughters.
Francesca was raised in the heart of Little Haiti. She graduated from Edison Park Elementary School, Edison Middle School and briefly attended Edison Senior High School. In 1999, Francesca and her family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where she attended and graduated 5th in her senior class at Central Classical Greek and Computers Unlimited Magnet High School.
Throughout her childhood, Francesca’s parents worked hard and sacrificed tremendously to provide for their children. Her parents instilled the importance of education and in 2003 after graduating high school, she returned to Miami to continue her education at Miami-Dade College and Florida International University, where she graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science and Women’s Studies, a minor in Philosophy, a certificate in National Security Studies and was a 2008 Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Scholar. Additionally, in 2013, she graduated from Florida International University with a Master’s in Public Administration and a certificate in Community Development.
While in college, Francesca was a student leader in several organizations, including Voices for Choice, the Young Activist Team of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast and the National Organization for Women (NOW) which helped in shaping her social and political perspectives. Since leaving FIU, Francesca’s passion and commitment to her community, education, and activism has only strengthened.
Francesca has dedicated over a decade of service to social, institutional, systematic and political change. She has led the development and implementation of strategic legislative, policy and voter engagement campaigns locally and statewide. Her work led to the passage of resolutions and ordinances in several counties throughout the state of Florida and passage of bills signed into law in Tallahassee which benefited immigrants, New Americans, youth and communities of color.
She served 2 years as an AmeriCorps member in the Public Allies program at Catalyst Miami which focuses on developing the next generation of leaders who are committed to long-term social change.
Francesca is the Founder and Chief Engager of CommUnity Strategies, LLC. A company rooted in grassroots advocacy, which is committed to empowering individuals, groups and communities to embrace and effectively express the power of their voice and vote.
Francesca is also the Florida State Coordinator for Local Progress at the Center for Popular Democracy, a network of hundreds of progressive local elected officials across the country dedicated to shared prosperity, equal justice under law, sustainable and livable cities, and good government that serves the public interest.
Prior to joining Center for Popular Democracy, Francesca served as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and Political Director for FLIC Votes, centered on intersectional social justice issues, including worker’s rights, racial justice, criminal justice and women’s rights.
For 2 years, Francesca was the coordinator of a national network of organizations fighting for the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). She also co-coordinated the Florida Wage Theft Task Force, which led the passage of ordinances in several counties and cities throughout the state. She coordinated a national network campaigning for Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. In 2014, she successfully led the statewide campaign “We Are Florida’s Future” to pass in-state tuition for undocumented students and led the campaign to establish the Office of New Americans of Miami-Dade County, establishing a public-private partnership to promote naturalization.
Additionally, during the 2016 and 2017 legislative session, Francesca successfully coordinated the statewide campaign "We Are Florida's Families," which led to the defeat of 9 anti-immigrant and anti-refugee bills which sought to criminalize immigrants and remove local elected officials from office who support and vote on policies to protect immigrants regardless of their status. In 2017, she also led the passage of several Welcoming Cities and School District resolutions.
For 2 years, Francesca served on the board of South Florida Jobs with Justice, a community organization leading the fight for worker's rights, focused on bring together labor, community, students and faith leaders. She also served on the board of the Miami-Dade Young Democrats for over 8 years, including a 2-year term as the Vice President of Communications and Administration.
For 8 years, Francesca has served on the national steering committee of the Black Immigration Network. A network with the vision of uniting people of African descent for racial justice and migrant rights to achieve social, economic and political power, which Francesca helped co-found in 2008.
For 8 years, Francesca served on the Miami-Dade Commission for Women, where she served a 2-year term as 2nd Vice-Chair of the Commission, appointed by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally A. Heyman.
Francesca served as the co-coordinator for #Rights4ALLinDR, a broad coalition of organizations and individuals advocating for human rights and dignity in the Dominican Republic.
She also served as the State Committeewoman of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Executive Committee and Treasurer of the Florida Democratic Party.
Francesca is a co-founder and Board Chair of The Black Collective and currently serves on the Miami-Dade County Community Action Agency Executive Board, the Miami-Dade County N.W. 79th Street Corridor Community Redevelopment Agency in addition to a number of organizational boards.
Francesca has received numerous honors and recognitions, including:
20 Under 40 Emerging Leaders in South Florida, The Miami Herald
Miami's 40 Under 40 Young Black Leaders of Today and Tomorrow, Legacy Magazine
20 Under 40 Haitian-American Young Professionals, The Haitian-American Chamber Of Commerce of Florida
“Angels on Adams Street”, Influence Magazine
Advocacy Award, Haitian Lawyers Association
Unsung Hero Award, City of Miami Gardens Honoree