Photo courtesy Frances Patterson Croft
Frances Patterson Croft has been director of strategic initiatives for the Women's Foundation of Mississippi, a statewide, Jackson-based nonprofit that works to ensure economic security for women and girls in the state, since January 2017. The organization supports community engagement and education projects for women and provides grants for other Mississippi-based organizations that support women.
In her position, Croft oversees the development and implementation of programs for the foundation, manages a board training program for women and manages the Women's Policy Institute, a program the Women's Foundation launched in 2019 that trains cohorts of women in leadership and advocacy skills.
Croft also organizes the foundation's annual Thrive @ Work Luncheon, an event that showcases inventive workplace policies from Mississippi-based companies and highlights organizations that employ women-friendly policies throughout the state. The Women's Foundation has moved this year's luncheon to August 25 and plans to restructure it as a virtual, interactive event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With COVID-19, the Women's Foundation has had to shift our focus more toward these kinds of online events," Croft says. "Normally we would want to have in-person apprenticeships, but for now we're doing everything we can to advocate for and amplify the voices of women as policy makers without being there in person."
Croft was born and grew up in Jackson. She graduated from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and went on to the University of Mississippi, where she received bachelor’s degrees in psychology and English in 2002. She later received her juris doctor in law from University of Mississippi School of Law in 2005.
"I always wanted to pursue law growing up because I love research and writing," Croft says. "Taking information, critical thinking, persuasive arguments and using language to tell a story are all important parts of legal research."
After graduating, Croft worked as a prosecutor and special assistant with the Mississippi attorney general's office until 2017, when she took her current position with the Women's Foundation of Mississippi.
"Women's leadership development is important to me, and the Women's Foundation is also the only (grant-maker) in Mississippi that is working for economic security for women statewide," Croft says of the organization that focuses entirely on women and girls. "I wanted to work with the Women's Foundation because I was excited at the prospect of providing that security and felt proud to have something like that to share with my children."
In addition to her work with the Women's Foundation, Croft volunteers with the Mississippi Children's Museum, the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Junior League of Jackson and St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson.
Croft and her husband, Justin Croft, have been married for nearly 15 years and have three children, Ben, Thomas and Catherine.