By Julia Cinquegrani || Editor-in-Chief
On March 29, Frances Wolf ’96, the First Lady of Pennsylvania and a Trustee of F&M, visited campus for an intimate discussion with students, and discussed topics ranging from her activities as First Lady to how her previous work experiences affect her public service priorities.
Wolf is the daughter of American diplomats, and grew up in Iran, Germany, France, Pakistan, and Great Britain. Wolf holds a degree in South Asian History from the University of London, England. She holds a second BA from F&M in Studio Art and History of Art. Wolf is a painter, whose work has been shown in galleries and museums throughout Pennsylvania. Wolf has also been actively involved in civic and community life, serving on the boards of multiple non-profit organizations and community groups.
Wolf credited her background in community service in helping her to prioritize the projects she emphasizes as First Lady. She said that she uses her position to support the initiatives her husband, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, is promoting.
“I’m straddling the space between the job my husband has and the position the job puts us in,” Wolf said. “[I ask myself] ‘How do I help and reinforce the issues that his administration is about?’”
Wolf said she sees her work as First Lady as an extension of what she did in the community before her husband took office.
“With my background in community involvement, public service is a natural world,” Wolf said. “I look at my position as a type of ambassador for what the administration is doing that I feel strongly about.”
Wolf has held leadership positions on the boards of the York County Community Foundation, the York County Planning Commission, Atkins House, a halfway house for female offenders, the Women’s Giving Circle of York, and serves on F&M’s Board of Trustees.
Wolf’s husband just finished his first year as governor, and Wolf said she has used that time to increase her knowledge of public policy issues and her confidence in her position as First Lady. Her husband had not served in public office before being elected governor, and Wolf said she has had to adjust to being in the public spotlight.
“For me, it has been very much a year of learning,” Wolf said. “This is a world that is not my strength, so I am learning about being out there. It has been a wonderful experience, but not what I am used to.”
Wolf uses her position to facilitate public outreach and events. She enjoys welcoming visitors to the governor’s mansion, and cited receptions for education reform advocates, female veterans, and breast cancer survivors as some of the upcoming events she is hosting. Wolf and her husband also regularly invite legislators from positions in Pennsylvania government to join them for dinner, as a way to casually get to know each other and facilitate good will.
“The governor’s residence is a safe place, and it belongs to all of us,” Wolf said. “There are no politics there.”
Wolf also spoke fondly about her time at F&M, where she enrolled when she was 40 years old.
“I came here to recharge myself,” Wolf said. “F&M gave me a second chance and changed my life dramatically; I am forever grateful to this institution.”
She credited the range of classes she studied at F&M for expanding her mind and presenting her with new ideas and thoughts. Studying at the College deepened her understanding of complex problems, decision-making skills, and analysis of issues.
Wolf encouraged students to join public service, saying that people who work in politics or public policy can help others and make a difference.
“A good way of starting in the [political] world is to get involved,” Wolf said. “At the very least, start voting. Read about the issues… All of us being involved makes a difference, whether we realize it or not.”
Senior Julia Cinquegrani is the Editor-in-Chief. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.