Mary Anne Franks is an Associate Professor at the University of Miami School of Law and Vice President of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of cyber harassment and advocates for legal and social reform.
She received her law degree from Harvard and her doctorate and master’s degree from Oxford University. She has previously been a Lecturer at Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School. Professor Franks is working diligently for online social justice.
Sources of Success and Influence
Ms. Franks attributes her earliest success to the influence of her mother, who modeled perseverance and bravery amidst hardship. Mary Anne’s father died when she was two years old. This left her mother, who had moved from Taiwan to the United States only a few years previously, alone with three young children and no close network of family or friends.
Her mother moved the family to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where Mary Anne’s father had grown up and where many of his relatives lived. There, she set a positive example for her children in a hostile and impoverished environment. Pine Bluff, Arkansas has a soaring crime rate and few cultural resources. It recently ranked second only to Detroit as America’s most dangerous city. The example of her mother, along with that of her older brothers, modeled bravery and ambition in the face of adversity.
A second influence to help Mary Anne was an elementary school teacher named Mrs. Raspberry. Mrs. Raspberry saw promise in Mary Anne’s writing ability and encouraged, praised, and guided her. Mary Anne recalls Mrs. Raspberry as funny and direct, yet strict. With her encouragement, Mary Anne began to believe for the first time that she might have a talent for writing.
Another English teacher, Mrs. Gorman, helped Mary Anne develop her writing ability in her teenage years. With her encouragement, Mary Anne became actively involved in the school’s literary magazine and other creative pursuits. These activities served as an anchor during Mary Anne’s rebellious phases. Mrs. Gorman was pivotal in her life and a lasting influence. Mary Anne remains grateful to Mrs. Gorman for treating her with respect for the person she could become, rather than merely reacting to the sometimes foolish extremes of her developing personality.
A final major influence came from a college professor, Dr. Ted Cotton. Mary Anne vividly recalls Dr. Cotton’s merciless critiques of her writing, critiques that cut deep but taught her lasting lessons in clarity and precision.
Tips for Women in Business
- Always recognize and verbalize when others do good work. Praise others directly and in front of peers for jobs well done. Tell others what their work meant to you.
- Women should not be afraid to be the voice that sets the agenda or starts the conversation if they have what it takes to back it up. Always be receptive to criticism or advice that actually makes you or your work better, but don’t waste time with misinformed, misguided, or malicious people.