100 Women We Love

photo by LYS AKERMAN
Jessalyn Frank
Expanding resources and bridging communication between the deaf/hard of hearing and hearing LGBT communities is the motivation behind Jessalyn Frank’s vast range of accomplishments. Frank settled in the Twin Cities specifically to address the gap in social services for the deaf there. As the State Director for CSD of Minnesota, which offers human services for the deaf and hard of hearing, she oversees the Deaf Adult Basic Education Program, as well as programs for domestic/sexual violence, health education and HIV/AIDS prevention. But she doesn’t stop there. She organized deaf volunteers for the Minnesota AIDS Walk, became certified as an HIV tester to communicate awareness in American Sign Language, and initiated the “LGBTQ Quit” smoking research project. She also serves as the Disability Coordinator for Twin Cities Pride, is a board member for the Justice for Deaf Victims National Coalition and founded the annual Deaf LGBTQ Awards in 2011. Even with her amazing achievements, Frank was pleasantly surprised at the reaction to her decision to be out and proud in all of her roles—she’s become de facto leader of her deaf and LGBT peers. "Equality and access should be afforded to everyone,” Frank points out. “The fight to be included was the driving force of my advocacy work. However, the best part is seeing the rewards of helping others discover power within themselves.”
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