Founder’s Day was established to recognize our school's founder, Harriet L. Packer. Her philanthropy helped save The Brooklyn Family Academy and established The Packer Collegiate Institute that we know today.
Each year, we invite a Packer graduate to talk to current students and our alumni. It's an opportunity to illustrate the life-changing experience of a Packer education and how it has impacted the lives of our alumni and ultimately the world around us. On Tuesday, October 27, we were honored to have Francisco Tezen ’93 as our 109th Founder’s Day Speaker.
Francisco is the President and CEO of A Better Chance, a nonprofit that helps young people of color access transformational educational experiences and prepare for leadership positions. He previously served as the Chief Development Officer of The Food Bank for New York City.
As he spoke, Francisco highlighted the important role Packer had in his upbringing:
“...it is clear to me that my time at Packer is when the values of social justice and equity began to take root in a different way, because Packer presented the space to cultivate and put these values into action, with intention and purpose — sense of purpose and mission that has guided me throughout my career in public service. “
He also spoke about key faculty members who provided experiences and knowledge that helped define him as a person.
“ My first class in art history with Ken Rush transported me to Italy during the Renaissance.... This was the first time I visited major arts and cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stephan Koplowitz and Kathleen Hill introduced me to the language of modern dance.... I even had the opportunity to perform at Packer as well as at Dance Theater Workshop and Carnegie Hall. I took my first class in African history and participated in co-curricular activities outside the classroom that helped advance my studies of the African diaspora. In history classes, Kathy Emery helped me hone my ability for close reading before I even had a name for reading with purpose and with an analytical eye. Linda Gold helped me to go on Odyssey with Homer, to never be silent with my pain in the words of Zora Neale Hurston, and instead write stories, poems, and plays that spoke the truth as I knew it.”
Francisco’s parting words were a challenge to our students and the broader Packer community.
“While these are challenging times, there is opportunity in the challenges. You have the opportunity to take action — to use your voice and/or to amplify the voices of communities that too often go unheard, bring urgency to the quest for solutions and progress. You may find it becomes a lifelong pursuit of service and justice, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King reverberating in your ears, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve … You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
As we celebrate the founding of Packer, we hope that all of our community can dedicate itself to living up to our mission to:
Act with Purpose and Heart