Devin Francis executive director on the Homecoming Council sat in the low lighting of the Student Organization Office Suite among one of the clusters of students collaborating to bring the University of Iowa’s 106th annual Homecoming Week to fruition. Her welcoming and vibrant personality immediately set people at ease and created a great environment for the other students.
Angie Benda director of operations for the University of Iowa Homecoming Council says, “Working with Devin is something that is always positive. She is a leader who knows how to balance relationship building with productivity. Devin is always encouraging of us to have an open door communication policy and to discuss concerns. As involved as she is, she always puts 150% commitment into every organization. Working with Devin has made myself a better leader by learning how to interact with individuals who approach situations in a process that is different than your own.”
Francis is a Junior at the University of Iowa majoring in African American Studies on the Pre-Law track. She is also a part of the Order of Omega a Greek society comprised of men and women who have displayed strong leadership in their respective fraternities and sororities, the National Pan-Hellenic Executive Board where she serves as the Vice President of Risk Management, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, and she’s a resident assistant.
She loves the University of Iowa because of the people. “We’re a Hawkeye Family. Bold. Underscore. Period,” said Francis. She also thinks it’s great that there is never a shortage of things for students to get involved in. It’s the activities, the organizations, and the people that give a big school a small feel. She emphasizes the importance of creating a strong and inclusive community that makes everyone feel at home.
In her current role as executive director, she oversees 22 students as they plan their initiatives and events. Homecoming is a time-consuming process that keeps her on her toes, but it’s ultimately rewarding. “Homecoming is wild. It’s like having a baby, it’s a nine-month process,” said Francis.
This is Francis’ third year on the Homecoming Council, but her main goal remains the same- striving for inclusion. In 2016 she was the Faculty and Staff Initiatives Director which she enjoyed because it gave her the opportunity to form relationships with faculty and discover ways to make Homecoming Week special for them as well as students.
Last year she created and served in the position of Multicultural Initiatives Director. In that role, she helped plan the first Multicultural Block Party at the University of Iowa. She’s excited to see the event happening again this year because it’s a great way to kick off homecoming week and promote inclusivity and comradery. It also highlights great resources and cultural centers like the Afro House, the Asian-Pacific American Cultural Center, the LGBTQ Resource Center, and the Latino Native American Cultural Center. It’s a way to inform students what resources are available to them and help them find their place on this campus. She hopes to see the event continue to grow and help students become more involved.
In addition to the Block Party, she enjoys the parade because it’s a huge congregation of Hawkeyes coming together in one place to celebrate the school with a grand tradition. She also thinks it’s great that the Homecoming Court has switched from crowning king and queen to crowning “royalty”. That decision is a big step toward including the impressive individuals who have completed the rigorous interviewing process and are crowned but don’t identify as strictly male or female.
Francis and her fantastic team put hard work and dynamic energy into making a great homecoming, and it’s on track to be better than ever. This year’s festivities will start on October 14th and end on the 20th with the game against Maryland. Check out their website so you know what activities are available this year.
Photos courtesy of the University of Iowa Student Life Marketing + Design Department.