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ParentMap 2018 Superhero T'wina Franklin: The Leader

A Q&A with the president and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League

Alayne Sulkin

Published on: March 30, 2018

T'wina Franklin
T'wina Franklin (right). Photo credit: Will Austin

It would be hard to not like T’wina Franklin. She’s warm, friendly and passionate — important qualities for her new job as president and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League

The league, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in February, focuses on issues of social justice and civil rights, says Franklin. 

“Our job is to make sure that African-Americans and other communities of color or disenfranchised groups have access to the opportunities in our community,” she says. “We want to stand up for the folks who are underrepresented or underserved in our community.”

Franklin and her team do this through a combination of advocacy and programming. One notable program: Girls With Purpose (GWP), in which girls of color between the ages of 11 and 14 work together on group activities and meet positive female mentors. It’s work Franklin loves.

“A lot of those services, and especially the female empowerment, were things that I needed as a young person,” she says. “That I get to serve in my community and make a change in this way is tremendously meaningful to me.”

Franklin is quick to credit “the superheroes in my life” for her success. On the list: a strong foster family for herself and her brothers. It was Franklin’s foster father who, she says, inspired her to represent her community. She also draws inspiration from her fiancé, JR (the couple are getting married later this year), and her four children. (The eldest, Alexia, is a college freshman and, Franklin says, “a tremendous support.”)

“While I’m honored to be a Superhero, none of the things that I accomplish can happen without the important people in my life,” she says. “I’d be nowhere without them.”

Advice for kids with big ambition?

Pursue it! My theme this year has been dream it, create it, pursue it. I want young people to dream big, to take the lid off, to not have any reservations about what they can do, but to really have a strategy and have the right people in their lives who can help them.  

What’s one small action our readers can take in their own lives to make positive change happen?

If there’s something that you dream of doing or dream of having in your community and it doesn’t exist, create it!

Do you have any thoughts on the evolution of action, inaction and causing real societal change?

We have to endure to serve. … Folks have to determine what issues are important to them and work on them all the time … and not be distracted by like, “Oh, here’s this new issue. Here’s this new issue.” 

In order for us to really create or change policy, we also have to hold our lawmakers responsible. We have to stay on them so that they are held accountable. … We have to step up and say, “No, not this time. We’re gonna endure.”  

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