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The Founders Society Spotlight: Frank C. Bracco, 2006
Class 1 - FY2011-2012
Class 2 - FY2014-2015
If you were at Crooms Academy of Information Technology during 2002 to 2006 chances are you know Frank Bracco. You say you never had classes, participated in a club, or played sports with Bracco? Maybe you knew him as the 'dork' that recited, “Rich in Tradition, Pride, and Vision,” on the morning announcements. Or, maybe you bought cookies and donuts in the morning after seeing one of his stunts to raise money for the cross country and track teams. Or, perhaps you attended a pep rally where he was the MC. Bracco was one of the more visible Croomies during his high school career, and now he is one of the more visible alumni pushing to build up the Crooms AoIT Alumni Association.
Born and raised in Seminole County, Bracco attended his zoned elementary school and middle school. But, when it came time for high school he had a choice between the established Winter Springs High School and Crooms Academy of Information Technology – a school that was a year old and only had one class of students enrolled in it. "At the time I thought I wanted to be a programmer who worked at NASA in the space program," Bracco recalls, "So, Crooms AoIT was the obvious choice."
The smaller environment and focus on technology proved to be a winning combination. "Prior to high school, I was a little bit of a trouble maker – mainly because I would get bored and hyperactive," says Bracco, "but Crooms AoIT's small environment helped ensure I wouldn't fall through the cracks." Academically he excelled. The seven period schedule allowed students to take one more class each year than other high schools in the county. This allows students to take plenty of technology classes without sacrificing academics. To emphasize Crooms AoIT's strong academic program, Bracco recalled that Ms. Harris' AP Chemistry was the most academically challenging class he had taken between his high school, undergrad, and graduate coursework.
At Crooms, however, it was outside of the classroom that Bracco was most visible. "It might be easier to tell you what I wasn't involved in,” Bracco joked when asked to recall his extracurricular involvement. He ran Cross Country and Track for four years and competed in state championship races four times. He also played soccer for three years. Off the field, Bracco was involved with Student Council. He started as a freshmen representative, then served as Vice President under fellow Founders Society member Micheal Morgan, and then served as President for two years. Crooms also served as Secretary/Treasurer school for two years in the Seminole County Association of Student Councils during Bracco's tenure. "There's actually a funny story as to how I got involved in Student Council," Bracco revealed, "We can blame fellow Founder John Amirrezvani for creating this monster. During freshmen year, we were in class when it an hour before the deadline to turn in paperwork for Student Council. Micheal and John were running and John encouraged me to. I wasn't really interested, but John talked me into it; we ended up getting Mr. Spiliotis [the club sponsor] to call my mom to get her approval. The rest is history."
Bracco was also involved in Business Professionals of America, including a year where he served as State Parliamentarian for Florida. He served as president of BETA Club, was also a member of National Honor Society, anchored the morning announcements, and was the MC for a couple of pep rallies and field days. Outside of Crooms AoIT, Bracco was a Boy Scout. "I ended up earning my Eagle Scout badge just under the wire thanks to the leaders of Troop 196," a thankful Bracco stated. During his junior and senior summers, he also interned with SCPS's I.T. department with assistance from Ms. Cathy Alper.
Upon graduation from Crooms AoIT, Bracco headed to the University of Florida and double majored in Political Science and Economics. "I enrolled in UF with nearly a year of credits thanks to Crooms," he proudly states, "And, I had decided to graduate in three years. To do so, I stayed at university during my summers; this also allowed me to work year-round." Bracco worked at Men's Warehouse and for a year at Everyman Sound Company – a sound equipment rental company in downtown Gainesville. He also worked at the local National Public Radio affiliate – WUFT-FM – for nearly three years. Bracco started out as board op/host for the overnight jazz program. He later added the titles of producer and show-host for the Saturday evening blues program. He also regularly picked up shifts extra shifts and even volunteered.
Outside of work during his time at UF, Bracco also served on the Reitz Union Board's Film Committee and as Treasurer for the Graham Area Council – his residence area. During his second year, he served as the chair of Chomp the Vote – a voter registration, education, and mobilization program that registered nearly 3,500 voters ahead of the 2008 primaries. "The thing I am proudest of with Chomp the Vote was we partnered with the local League of Women Voters chapter to bring the city council election debate to the university campus, where it had the highest turnouts in years even on a stormy night," Bracco declared. At one point, he ran for Student Body Vice President and won the endorsement of the student newspaper. Later, he would serve as a student senator, assist with ballot questions, and even sued the University for Student Government related issues. Plus, he also served on the City of Gainesville's Citizens Advisory Committee for Community Development where he assisted with recommendations on fiscal outlays for community development funds.
After UF, Bracco attended the University of Georgia for the Master of Public Administration program. Bracco jokes that he lost some Gator friends due to his choice to attend classes at UF's nemesis. During his time at UGA, he was a teaching assistant and headed two break-out sessions for Introduction to American Government each semester. During his first year, he interned with the UGA Archway Program, where he researched code enforcement practices for the Archway Program in Clayton County, Georgia. And, during his summer, he interned with the investor relations and events group at the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission.
Bracco now works as an analyst in the Finance Department of the City of Houston. "I work for the Performance Management Division and our mission is two-fold: 1) help find efficiencies within the City, particularly on the accounts receivables side, and 2) help better measure performance so City leaders and the public can see the level of quality (or, need for improvement) associated with city services," he states. Even in finance-related activities, the technology education he received at Crooms AoIT plays a role in his daily responsibilities. As Bracco explains, "I've been helping with the analysis of various revenue streams and our attempt to set up a data warehouse to better help measure and manage our AR. I think my most valuable I.T. skills have come from Mrs. Paladino's classes in Unix and SQL. I spend more time playing with databases and flat data files than I ever thought someone in a finance department would."
- You were very active at Crooms and the University of Florida, and have a strong interest in public policy. When are you running for public office?
Ha, I get this question all the time from Croomies. Clearly they haven't spent enough time around me. I am far too much of a curmudgeon and too frank to have the skills to be a good politician.
- Are you surprised by the use of any specific technologies in public administration world?
Unfortunately, I don't have much private industry insight to compare technology in government usage to. With that caveat, there are two things that really surprise me. The first would be the resistance to open source technologies. You would think there would be cost savings and innovations that could occur if I.T. departments were more willing to support open source technologies. The second would be the decentralization of I.T. policies. This is especially a problem at educational institutions and large municipalities: large departments seem to set their own I.T. standards (but for the network configuration) and this leads to a proliferation of software and data sources that the I.T. department is expected to support.
- Any past projects or experiences you would be interested in sharing?
There are many, but I'll share two. The first would my internship at the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. Long story short, I got to see high profile business and community leaders in action. Central Florida has a relatively small, but very amazing, C-Level business community that can do a lot to inform the economic and regional development of the area. Hopefully organizations like MetroPlan, the EDC, and the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council are able to survive the economic downturn because their role in regionalism is vitally important. The visioning these entities, and others, provide is important as the region continues its transition away from depending on tourism and land development.
The second experience would be Bracco v. Machen. Google it, haha. The Attorney General's office has a summary on it (at the bottom of the page). Basically, I'm a big believer in transparency in government and I also support the Florida First Amendment Foundation. I think technology can play a big role in increasing transparency, informing the electorate, and engaging the community. But, if not used properly, it can be the bane of transparency.
- Any side projects or extracurricular you are involved with?
I serve as the Secretary/Treasurer and a Board member of the Crooms AoIT Alumni Association, Inc. The other big one would be I am the Channel Director for Sky.FM's Modern Blues channel. I'm also still running 5Ks to build up my running t-shirt collection.
- Some individuals have asked that I mention two words, "Cheerleader Outfit". Care to share?
Care to Share? No, but I guess you forced my hand. During Micheal's time as President of Student Council, Crooms held its first Valentine's Day dance. To encourage attendance, Micheal and I dreamed up this stunt last minute that was uniquely wacky and uniquely Crooms. If we could get another 40-50 students to attend, I would dress up as a cheerleader and let Micheal tackle me for show. Somehow it worked because two or three clubs decided to cancel their meetings and wandered over to the dance. Go figure.
- You've remained very involved in the Alumni Association, why?
I have a strong interest in supporting education. There needs to be more community realization of the role primary and secondary education plays in the social and economic wellness of communities. Sadly, over the last 10-15 years there has been a shift occurring in public education. Florida ranks dead last in per-capita spending on K-12 education. While I realize that is an extremely simplistic view of whether our public schools have the political and financial support they need, it underlines the shift that is occurring. As we move forward, I think it is going to be an important for local communities to step up and augment the diminishing state support. You can do that in four ways: 1) increasing local taxes (which isn't popular), 2) building up parent-student-teacher organizations (which are strong at the primary level, but not so much at the secondary level), 3) creating strong business associations to support schools (Crooms AoIT has an amazing Business Advisory Council), and 4) building up a strong and active alumni association (something universities and elite private schools do). As alumni, we have to do our part to support Crooms AoIT.
- End goal?
At some point I would like to return to Central Florida and play some role – no matter how small – in regional planning and development. I don't know if that means I will be back in 2 years, 10 years, or post-retirement, but that's the only big life goal I have at this point. If you wanted to know my more comical goal it would be to be a cartoon character voice; awesome, eh?
- Why did you decide to become a member of The Founders Society?
There is a significant role alumni can play in supporting Crooms AoIT and helping current students succeed. Crooms AoIT is a strong educational institution that does a wonderful job at educating and engaging students across the socioeconomic spectrum. My time at Crooms allowed me to succeed in academics and extracurriculars, whereas I probably would have "fallen through the cracks" at a larger school. At the end of the day, if we impact the high school experience of even only one student then we have done a good job.
- Any other parting thoughts you would like to leave us with?
Join the Alumni Association and get engaged. It doesn't matter whether you are currently in the IT industry or not, you still have something to offer. And, let us know what you want from your alumni association; after all, there aren't too many high school models of alumni associations to look at.
Updated: August 10, 2012
The Founders Society was established in 2011 to recognize the Crooms AoIT Alumni Association's most generous benefactors. These individuals, couples, or companies have made significant one-time contributions during our capital fundraising periods for the advancement of Crooms AoIT. Society members are sending a message that philanthropic support of Crooms AoIT and the current student body is vital to our alma mater's future success. Their financial support is changing lives and helps promote a culture of community support and involvement. To learn more about The Founders Society visit www.croomsalumni.com/about/founders.