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Looking back on Francine Wilson Jasper's legacy of excellence

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By Peter Gregory
  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development
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Francine Wilson Jasper will retire July 31 after 27 years as associate director of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. She has been a great colleague, the administrative backbone of the program, and a highly supportive and inspiring mentor to the 281 Humphrey Fellows with whom she has worked.

Francine displays an unusual combination of administrative excellence coupled with a capacity for creative, strategic thinking. She believes that growing cross-cultural competence is key to global development, and she’s a huge advocate for facilitating cross-cultural exchange whenever possible. Due in large part to her efforts, we have had overwhelmingly successful interactions with Fellows and addressed the many personality-related and cultural issues that are an intrinsic part of the Program. It is impressive that Francine had the energy and passion to write an engaging book titled “Cultural Intelligence: Passport to Understanding” (recently published), which shares some of her wisdom.

Francine consistently refers to herself as an introvert, but that is not always the case. During discussions she can be outgoing, engaging, and energetic. “There you go again, Francine. Far too introverted!” I sometimes joke at her. But on the more serious side, I believe her ability to tap into different parts of her personality and leadership style is what makes her work so effective. She is just as capable of brainstorming fundamental improvements to our program as facilitating lively, stimulating, and productive interactions with Fellows, program team members, and others.

On her extroverted side, Francine has been vital in creating and expanding professional and social networks for Humphrey Fellows. Her extensive knowledge of Cornell’s faculty and staff, courses, and programs has helped our Fellows to interact with the university community. Moreover, her extensive knowledge of, and connections with, organizations and individuals around Ithaca, this region, and the USA have led to effective collaborations with the Fellows and, on many occasions, long-term professional and personal relationships. Francine founded the Friendship Partners for the Humphrey Fellowship Program in 1994.

But Francine’s administrative and networking abilities have helped far more than just Humphrey Fellows. Over the past 27 years, she has worked with numerous training programs simultaneously with the Humphrey Fellowship Program. Few programs are as close to her heart as the World Food Prize New York Youth Institute (NYYI), which she launched in 2009 and has directed for 12 years. NYYI provides a life-changing experience at Cornell for high school students to engage with local leaders and experts on critical global food security challenges, participate in hands-on activities, and explore exciting ways to make a difference in New York and around the world.

What This Year’s Fellows Say about Francine

"When I think about Francine, the quote, 'wherever you go, please make kindness your footprint' automatically appears in my mind. Yes, she did. She showed her talents, skills, smarts, and wisdom to the globe." -Hlaing Hlaing Htoon, Myanmar (Burma)

What This Year’s Fellows Say about Francine

"Francine's contributions have helped us realize how much she values and cares about the impact of the Humphrey Program on our academic and future pursuits. She is the apple of our eyes and our lovely mom."- Martin Pio John Faki, South Sudan

What This Year’s Fellows Say about Francine

"Francine has servedus all well and her dedication and selflessness are unparalleled. I wish her the very best that life has to offer as she takes a rest from labor."-Abigail Quarshie, Ghana

Woman smiling near bookcase
Man standing near Niagara Falls
Woman smiling near bookcase

Another work to which Francine has added value is the Alliance for Science, an organization which promotes scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, environmental sustainability, and quality of life. Francine gave essential foundational guidance in establishing the Alliance’s Global Leadership Fellows and has since provided the program not only with diversity and inclusion training but also opportunities to network with the Humphrey Fellows informally and professionally. This partnership has proved to be mutually beneficial for both fellowship programs.

Our newsletter is not the first time Francine’s global development work has been recognized. Among her distinctions are International Women’s Day Honoree in 2001 and 2006 and, along with faculty, the Cornell James Perkins Prize Honorable Recognition. As for post-retirement activities, Francine is contemplating a number of options, as one would expect of someone with such a creative mind. But mostly she wants to stay healthy and active, continue to enjoy life, socialize, and spend time with her family.

Francine, may your retirement bring all the satisfaction that you have brought to the lives of so many others from around the world. We shall miss you.

This article is from the 2020 Cornell Humphrey Fellow Program newsletter. Read more about Francine and the program's activities in the newsletter.

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