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Francine LeFrak
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Francine LeFrak is an award-winning theatrical, television and film producer, a successful entrepreneur and a distinguished philanthropist. As a producer, Francine’s work has drawn attention to social issues of global significance, including HIV/AIDS, conflict and intolerance. Her films have been screened at major international film festivals such as Cannes, London, Munich, Milan and Sundance. Francine’s productions have been recognized with Tony, EMMY and Peabody Awards.

In recognition of Francine’s humanitarian efforts, she received the Women Together Award from the United Nations, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations and the Human Spirit Award from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. She’s been named Woman Who Cares by the United Cerebral Palsy and USO Woman of the Year, to name a few.

In 2008, Francine founded Same Sky, a socially-conscious jewelry line that enables female artisans to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Same Sky’s inaugural project in Kigali, Rwanda, provides employment to HIV-positive survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. 100% of net-proceeds from jewelry sales are reinvested into expanding the business to other regions of the world spreading the “women helping women” mission of Same Sky. Follow Francine on Twitter @FrancineLeFrak or visit: www.samesky.com.

Entries by Francine LeFrak

Reframing Reentry: National Reentry Week

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2016 | 12:32 PM

Recently, in Jersey City at Mayor Steven Fulop's Reentry Conference organized by former Governor Jim McGreevey, people from all walks of life got together--from Reverend Al Sharpton to Governor Chris Christie; from women just getting out of prison to representatives of Koch Industries. We all shared a common stance on...

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The Truth Behind the Navy Blue Blouse

(1) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 1:36 PM

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Even a leader in the ethical shopping movement can still be seduced by a bargain.

Over the weekend, while confronting the daunting task of Spring Cleaning, I came across two navy blue blouses that I picked up at a popular fast-fashion chain...

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The Runway Challenge: Fashion Week for the Soulful Shopper

(1) Comments | Posted February 11, 2016 | 8:43 AM

This fashion week, I'm here to challenge you. It does not matter whether you shop at Bergdorf or H&M, TOMS or Jimmy Choo; what matters is if you're asking the right questions and realizing that the decisions you make reverberate around the world. It is certainly not easy to look...

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Under the Same Sky

(0) Comments | Posted January 26, 2016 | 9:17 AM

On a recent weeknight at the Most Excellent Halfway House in Jersey City, 15 women came together to meticulously bead bracelets. While beading, Cassie discussed her new job at Supercuts where she is exploring money-saving tactics, Tanya showed pictures of her children that she is trying to regain custody of,...

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Seeing Orange?

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2015 | 11:44 AM

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It's the time of the year to put an away message on your e-mail account, to log off, and shutdown. It's time to embrace the company of your loved ones, to share stories and ideas with friends and family. But this...

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If You See Something, Say Something: A Simple Nudge to End School Shootings

(3) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 12:15 PM

Post-9/11 in New York City gave birth to an era of hyper-awareness and proactive responsibility. An unattended bag on the 6 train resulted in 20 calls to the NYPD. A loiterer covertly taking photos of the Holland Tunnel was reported by a dozen passersby. After 9/11, the NYPD came to...

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Rwanda Entrepreneurial Model Gives Hope to New Jersey Women Ex-Offenders

(4) Comments | Posted April 2, 2015 | 1:36 PM

On Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City, in a neighborhood dotted with boarded up buildings and home to some of the most notorious drug corners in town, a group of women sit together stringing beads in silence.

The occasional car horns, police sirens or shouts drift in through the...

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My Umuganda

(1) Comments | Posted March 25, 2015 | 10:43 AM

With over two billion people on social media, that's more than 1 in 4 around the world, we are more interconnected to each other than we've ever been.1 Such a powerful connecting force enables us to cross geographic and cultural barriers to share commonalities and come to understand and...

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The Bright Side of Black Friday

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 9:28 AM

Black Friday has the power to do good. This day of extreme consumerism, this day that that causes stampedes in the name of giving gifts, can give the greatest gift of all -- the promise of a brighter future.

Our level of consumerism isn't sustainable. In 1995, 1 in 17...

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Philanthropy Gift Guide: Give Hope This Holiday Season

(0) Comments | Posted November 4, 2014 | 9:57 AM

The biggest trick of Halloween this year is that the holidays have already started. Give more than gifts this holiday season: Give impact.

How do we know that our dollar is being used the most effective way and actually invested into the cause? It's hard to know exactly where, or...

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Women's Philanthropy: Coming Soon!

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 12:05 PM

There's a crisis in philanthropy that no one's talking about. I'll put it simply: in the United States, women control the majority of the money, but there's a philanthropy gender gap: funding for women's issues still falls short.

Women control almost 60 percent of the wealth in the U.S., so...

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America's First Umuganda

(0) Comments | Posted March 19, 2014 | 3:41 PM

One morning, during a visit to Rwanda, I was surprised to see the typically bustling streets of Kigali at a standstill. No cars were on the roads, and businesses were halted. When I asked why, I learned of Umuganda - the last Saturday of each month when everyone,...

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A Win-Win for Job Creation

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 9:11 AM

In the United States, 50 million people are living below the poverty line. In 2013 the average rate of poverty went up to 36 percent in most all of America's major cities. There are more than 10 million Americans under the age of 25 who are currently unable to find...

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Second Chance at Newport Mall in NJ

(1) Comments | Posted December 13, 2013 | 6:48 PM

same sky
From left to right: Tanya, Ms. USA, Davita, Barbara)


I have had this dream to provide incarcerated women a "second chance" and offering them a "hand up, not a hand out" by training them to create jewelry. From this incremental experience, women would...

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The 12 Step Program for Bargain Addictions

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 3:06 PM

Since April, when the death toll of a Bangladesh clothing factory fire exceeded a thousand people, there have been dozens of articles urging consumers to understand the grim reality of modern day manufacturing. Articles from The Huffington Post to The New York Times are citing that even when consumers are...

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Creating the Demand for a Soulful Economy

(0) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 11:16 AM

It's that time of year again in New York City -- thousands of people from every corner of the globe gather together to address the world's most pressing social issues. As my friend Louise Guido calls it "The Fashion Week" of Social Impact is in full force. With many conferences,...

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The Case for Redefining Success

(2) Comments | Posted June 19, 2013 | 4:19 PM

Everywhere we turn, women are being confronted with heated debates about 'having it all.' Women are being urged to "lean in" and challenge the barriers of the traditional workplace. These conversations on balancing a family, a career, our image and personal lives are going to take us in one of...

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Bravo, Ben Affleck: A Man of Substance

(0) Comments | Posted February 26, 2013 | 5:33 PM

I think most would agree that Ben Affleck's speech on Sunday was a breath of fresh air, and an honest representation of what life's journey to an Oscar entails. Ben so brilliantly reminded us all that life is a dead end when you hold grudges, and although it is difficult,...

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Calling All Hillarys

(2) Comments | Posted February 21, 2013 | 3:40 PM

Stop a woman on the street today -- anybody from a CEO to a high school student -- to question when International Women's Day is celebrated, and you may very well receive an indifferent shrug of the shoulders. The approaching holiday, intended to celebrate women's accomplishments and progress, still remains...

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Inspiration Where You Least Expect It

(0) Comments | Posted January 15, 2013 | 3:37 PM

Jean Harris first became known to the world as a hotheaded headmistress that murdered her longtime boyfriend, Dr. Herman Tarnower, the well-known Scarsdale diet doctor. But when I opened The New York Times in late December to find that Jean Harris had passed away, her crime of passion...

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