“My name is Frances Lucerna. I am on life’s journey, and always creating frontiers and spaces of beginnings in life.”
Brooklyn, artist, founder of nonprofit and high school dedicated to human rights
Frances Lucerna has a passion for the arts and social justice. Her work creating institutions of learning and holistic personal growth for adolescents has earned her respect, praise and national recognition as a pioneer.
Her journey started in her own backyard. As a young woman, she left her Williamsburg community in the 1970s to work as a professional dancer. When she returned, her old neighborhood was overrun with violence.
She put her effort into rebuilding the neighborhood, and in 1980, she founded the Williamsburg Arts and Cultural Council for Youth (WACCY), which provided Latino and African American adolescents with pre-professional training in dance and visual arts.
“First and foremost, I am an artist, which is why I support arts programs for young people. They face so many challenges, decisions and situations they are trying to understand,” she says. “The arts provide a powerful way to process life and find one’s voice.”
Two years after opening the Arts and Cultural Council, she and her late husband Luis Garden Acosta founded El Puente, a community and youth development organization in 1982. She incorporated WACCY into El Puente and continued to lead its development into one of Brooklyn’s most comprehensive Latino arts and cultural centers.
In 1993, the couple expanded El Puente, and Frances became the founding Principal of the El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice. The school was one of the first public schools in the country dedicated to Human Rights. She served as El Puente’s Executive Director since 2001 and has transitioned to President since her husband’s passing in 2019.
Frances continues to build on the work that El Puente has accomplished to include addressing environmental, health and social inequities.
“My name is Frances Lucerna. I am on life’s journey and always creating frontiers and spaces of new beginnings in life.”