Leslie C. Francis
Les Francis is a successful and respected personnel and project manager and communications specialist with extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. He is a highly regarded policy and opinion leader in national political circles.
Francis has held senior executive positions in several public affairs, communications and advertising firms. He also served for five years as Vice President of the Educational Testing Service, with offices in Princeton, NJ and Washington.
Francis has lived and worked in Washington, D.C., since January 1975, when he joined the staff of then-newly elected Rep. Norman Y. Mineta of San Jose, Calif. He served as the Congressman’s chief of staff and principal political adviser until early 1977, when he moved to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue to join President Jimmy Carter’s White House staff as deputy assistant to the President for congressional liaison. Francis was later named deputy White House chief of staff. His White House responsibilities included devising legislative strategies for presidential policy initiatives and coordinating the various Cabinet departments’ congressional relations operations. .
In 1981, Francis launched his own business, The FMR Group, which was a pioneer in the grassroots-lobbying field. The firm, acquired by Winner & Associates in 1993, was known for its innovative and effective constituency-development efforts. Francis and his firm won national recognition from the Public Relations Society of America and the American Association of Political Consultants.
In addition to managing or consulting dozens of initiative and referenda campaigns over the past two decades, Francis served as a staff member, manager, or senior adviser in campaigns for almost every office from city council to president. At different times in his career, he has also served as the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee (1980-81) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (1991-92).
Francis began his career in 1967, when he became the youngest person ever to join the ranks of the professional staff of the California Teachers Association. He worked as a member of CTA’s Department of Teacher Education and Professional Standards, and served as the principal adviser to the association’s student programs. During that period he also played an instrumental role in the national campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution to permit 18-year-olds the right to vote, an effort that was spearheaded and funded by the National Education Association.
For the 1969-70 academic year, Francis returned to his alma mater, San Jose State University, as adviser to the university’s international student population. In September of 1970, Francis rejoined the staff of CTA/NEA, becoming an organizational development and crisis management specialist in Orange County, Calif., where he stayed until moving to the nation’s capital in 1975.
In addition to his work in political and public affairs, Francis has remained active in the education arena and in a variety of volunteer activities. He has served as a board member of several nonprofit organizations and educational institutions, including the Council for Excellence in Government, Congressional Management Foundation, the Civic Mission of Schools campaign, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. Francis has also served as a volunteer consultant to the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and has advised democratic movements and parties in Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bolivia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Bosnia. Francis as also serves as an adjunct faculty member of political communications at George Washington University, where he teaches courses in campaign communications and political campaign ethics.
With his extensive and varied experience in politics and government at the local, state and federal levels, Francis is a frequent source for journalists as they cover or analyze current events. He has authored and co-authored articles for many of the country’s leading newspapers and websites, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Sacramento Bee, the San Jose Mercury-News, the Frum Forum, Huffington Post, and Real Clear Politics, among others. Francis has been a guest lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University, American University, the University of Virginia, Harvard’s Kennedy School, Stanford University, San Jose State, and the Close-Up Foundation.