Carolyn Frank grew up on a farmette in Rockingham County with her parents and 9 siblings. She moved to Harrisonburg in 1980 when she married Rob Frank, a lifelong resident of the city. Their sons, Chris and Charlie, attended city schools graduating from HHS and then graduating from VA Tech and JMU, respectively. Carolyn retired from Verizon in 2010 after 38 years of service. Carolyn became the first woman line-person (then called linemen)at the company. Carolyn advanced her career by taking electronic and computer classes at Massanutten Technical Center in the evenings. Carolyn spent the last 22 years as a communication technician. Her duties included: maintaining the 911 system, performing system upgrades, installing and troubleshooting high-speed data lines. In this technical position, she was the first and only female in her department.
Carolyn is a trail blazer and extremely community-minded, having served our community in many different capacities. She is probably best remembered for her 5 years of leadership and tireless efforts in developing the city’s soccer program and advocating for the Smithland Road Soccer Complex. She worked closely with the Rockingham County Park and Rec director to promote interleague play in the older age division. The initial soccer program was co-ed, but under Carolyn leadership an all girls league was soon formed.
Carolyn had the privilege and honor to be elected to Harrisonburg City Council in May, 2000 becoming the City’s first woman mayor. Believing in open, responsive government and public involvement, council meetings were broadcast live and City Hall became a welcoming place for all citizens. Carolyn’s platform was Change for Harrisonburg and change certainly happened.
At that time, Downtown Harrisonburg was filled with many empty storefronts. The council, along with energized supporters worked together to revitalize downtown. Council partnered with local artists providing seed money for the Oasis Art Center, Downtown Renaissance was formed, the area was designated a historical district, a streetscape plan was implemented and the rest is history. We now have a thriving, livable, vibrant downtown with great things still happening, including the Children’s Museum. Harrisonburg has reaped great benefits with increased tax revenues from downtown restaurants and stores. It was a great honor and privilege for Carolyn to be a part of downtown’s progress.
Now, she is ready to serve the city again, advocating for a sustainable future for our city! There is still much to be done.