Frances Lucerna has been a pioneer of community arts and education for the past 30 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Dance from Hunter College and Masters of Arts, in Education and Supervision, from Bank Street College. She danced professionally for 10 years and in 1980 returned to her community Williamsburg, Brooklyn and founded the Williamsburg Arts & Culture Council for Youth, a performing and visual arts program for adolescents. In 1982, Ms. Lucerna became co-founder of El Puente, a nationally recognized community/youth development organization nurturing holistic leadership for peace and social justice.
As Artistic Director of El Puente, with the Williamsburg Arts and Culture Council as its cornerstone, Ms. Lucerna developed Brooklyn’s most comprehensive Latino Arts and Cultural Center, providing pre and professional training in five arts disciplines. She has also nurtured three professional performing companies in Dance and Drama comprised of El Puente youth, and has produced and presented the talent of local as well as international artists to the community. In 1998 El Puente received the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ “Coming Up Taller Award” in recognition of its outstanding community arts programs.
In 1993 Ms. Lucerna broke new ground on the frontier of national school reform as the Founding Principal of the El Puente Academy for Peace & Justice, a New Visions/New York City Department of Education High School. It was the first school in the country dedicated to Human Rights and is a nationally recognized community school model. It has grown to become one of the highest rated public high schools in NYC and continues to be researched and highlighted for its innovative and effective pedagogy.
Ms. Lucerna has served as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts, the Advisory Committee to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the Community School Task Force for the White House Conference on Character Building for a Democratic Civil Society, and the Community/Youth Development Guide Team of the National Network for Youth. She currently serves on a number of local and city-wide boards that include the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (representing NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito), North Brooklyn Open Space Alliance, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, the Mayor’s Advisory Board for Community Schools and the NYC Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee.
Her many awards include “Celebrating Success” from the Children’s Defense Fund, the Brooklyn Council on the Arts “Arts Advocate Award”, Brooklyn Botanical Garden Forsythia Award, Comite Noviembre’s 2010 “Lo Mejor de Nuestra Comunidad” award and El Diario’s 2010 Mujeres Destacadas Award. Frances Lucerna received the 1998 Heinz Award for the Human Condition, along with El Puente’s Founder and President Luis Garden Acosta.