Frank: Why I keep coming back to TSA and Truman Events after 34 Years

Randi Frank (CT '77)Randi Frank (CT ’77) is a member of the first class of Truman Scholars from 1977. Below she reflects on the 2011 National Conference and more than three decades as a Truman Scholar. She can be reached at Randi Frank Consulting, LLC, and you can follow her blog at

I was asked to write an article about the TSA 2011 Conference. When I asked what I should write about they said to talk about why I keep coming back to TSA events. As you can see from above I am from the first class of Truman Scholars when we had to take an exam to qualify, write about our life’s story and why we wanted to go into public service. The Scholarship in 1977 was given when we were sophomores in college and it was $20,000 for two years of undergraduate and two years of graduate school. Believe it or not back then it paid for my tuition, books, room & board at the University of Rhode Island where I received a BA in Urban Affairs and it paid for my tuition, books and half of my room & board at the University of Southern California where I received a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Intergovernmental Management. What we didn’t have is the TSLW or the Summer Institute – we went to Independence and received our award from Margret Truman Daniels and went home.

Side note – I discovered that Clifton Truman Daniels who was probably a freshman in college was also at our ceremony because his mother wanted to show him that students could accomplish great things if they studied hard. I had the opportunity to discuss this with Clifton at the conference when he signed his book for me.  I too as a mother have done the same thing with my son who is the same age as the new 2011 Truman Scholars.

So why do I keep coming back after all these years? There are three reasons:

1. I still believe in Public Service
2. I love seeing Truman friends I have met at previous events
3. I want to give back to Foundation and to the TSA
I still believe in Public Service. I remember my enthusiasm for public service and how I demonstrated it during my interview in Boston. One of the panelists asked me what I wanted to do and I told him that I was interested in local government in the area of community development, community planning or city management. He leaned over the table and said “is that all, don’t you want to go into State or Federal Government”. I leaned back and pounded the table and said “absolutely not because the only place you can make a difference is at the local government – you can see your accomplishments right away”. I thought I blew it because I was so rude by pounding the table but he had pushed my buttons.  Now I am sure it is why I received the scholarship. I did exactly what I said I would do and pursued a career in local government working in CA, VA and CT in municipal government as a Budget/Management Analyst and Assistant City Manager. After 20 years in municipal government I was laid off and asked to come back as a consultant for 3 months during the transition and I have been a consultant serving mostly municipal governments since 2000.  Every time I attend a Truman/TSA event I learn more about various aspects of public service and see the great work everyone is doing.

I love seeing Truman Friends I have met at previous events. Those of you who have not read the history of the TSA would be surprised to know about the many events that took place that focused on getting Truman Scholars together. Some of these gatherings were the for runner to the TSLW idea but for those of us who hadn’t had that opportunity these events were a way to stay connected to the Foundation and other Truman Scholars. I remember the first program I went to at the Virginia Military Institute which was sponsored by the George Marshall Foundation – I met Tom Burack (NH ’80)  for the first time and Lori Forman a 77 scholar who I have kept in touch with as she traveled all over the world. I also met Chris Coons and Brother Rogers for the first time in DE when the Stennis Center for Public Service sponsored one of many events for Truman Scholars. We went to Key West – the little white house twice where my son of 10 sat at Harry’s seat to play poker with other Truman Scholars. We had a great time when we went to the launching of the Truman Air Craft Carrier in Norfolk, VA. We also went to FDR’s Home in NY. I have also attended a number of Dinners in NY for Truman Semi-finalist and met many Truman Scholars. This year’s conference is the second one I attended in DC. I have found the keynote speakers inspiring. This year I think Chris Coons (DE ’83) even out did Janet Napolitano (AZ ’77) from the 2009 conference with his insights on all national issues. The only difficulty at the conference is I couldn’t attend all the breakout sessions. I have always found it fascinating to see what the scholars are working on and amazed at their knowledge and intensity for their favorite cause.

I want to give back to the Foundation & TSA. Without the scholarship, I am not sure I would have had the opportunities for unpaid internships (since I didn’t have to worry about funds for undergraduate school) and to go to graduate school so both I and my parents are very grateful for the Scholarship. I think after 34 years of scholars hitting the ground running we have become an important support system for those going into public service or serving the public in various ways and have created that legacy to Harry S. Truman.  I really enjoyed the speed networking program at the conference where I could talk to younger scholars and assist them with some career ideas and some life experience. I will continue to help any Truman Scholar that contacts me who wants to learn more about municipal government, needs me to review their resume or help with preparing for an interview. We all know that Truman Scholars know how to apply for college or scholarships but the resume does need to be adjusted for professional employment opportunities. With my many years in municipal recruitment and my current executive search experience as a consultant I have seen the good and bad and would like to help any Scholars who want some extra advice at no cost.

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