The accomplishments of Lorraine Weiss Frank are wide in scope and include areas beyond her contributions to the preservation and enrichment of Arizona culture and history. She knew that people actively participating in the civic life of their communities, whether neighborhood, school board, city council, or state government, was necessary not only for quality of life, but for the preservation of democracy. She understood that the beauty and richness of Arizona comes from its people, the story told by each individual footprint and by the collective path of footprints that tell the story of our people, and our nation.
Lorraine Weiss was born in Tarrytown, New York on June 7, 1923. She graduated from Vassar College in 1942, married John Frank and moved to Arizona in 1954 where she and her husband raised five children. In 1973 she founded the Arizona Humanities Council. Lorraine was always attuned to gender and women’s issues in Arizona, the nation and the world. She became the single biggest supporter of Arizona women’s history through the Arizona Humanities Council she directed. She funded the first women’s oral history project in the state and nourished public discussions by funding innumerable conferences on women’s issues in communities throughout the state. She funded important conferences at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University on Western Women’s History and she encouraged networks of scholars in the state to work on Arizona women’s issues. Western Women’s History as a field owed its origins to funding from Western State Humanities Councils and Lorraine was a leader in that loose coalition of Humanities Council Directors.
What sets Lorraine apart from other leaders of non-profit organizations is both the duration of her work at Arizona Humanities (from 1973-1989) and the continuation of many of the programs which she implemented. During her tenure, the Speakers Bureau program was started to provide humanities speakers from a variety of topical areas for community enrichment throughout the state. This program continues to be an important facet of Arizona Humanities program offerings today.
She also focused on engaging diverse constituencies who might not otherwise be interested or have access to humanities programming. During her time as Executive Director, she helped rural libraries develop humanities-related public programs to serve their communities. This focus on community outreach is still an important aspect of Arizona Humanities programming today. Also with her oversight, Arizona Humanities began its record of granting money to fund local and state-wide humanities programs and projects; a similar process is still in place today through Project Grants and Opportunity Grants.
Alongside her long service at Arizona Humanities, her service on boards of healthcare organizations throughout her career demonstrates her enduring dedication to additional causes that benefit Arizona communities in multiple ways.
Lorraine’s daughter, Gretchen Frank, accepted the award at the Induction Ceremony.Read More Bios 2015 Inductees