Now acting as a deaconess for the Oakland Baptist Church, a role she accepted in 1996, Frances Burnette Colbert-Clements Terrell has led an accomplished career in religious and governmental service. After securing experience as a Congressional staff assistant with Congressman Jack Brooks from 1972 to 1976, she joined the U.S. House of Representatives, where she worked with Congressman Parren Mitchell and Congressman John Conyers from 1976 to 1999, after which she retired from the role. After leaving government service, Ms. Terrell owned the Fran and Cal Travel Agency from 2006 to 2010. She received her deaconess certificate in 1996 and has been a member and deaconess for the Oakland Baptist Church ever since. Moreover, between 2011 and 2021, she was the president of the Seminary West Civic Association.
Ms. Terrell has been a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, better known as the NAACP, since 1990 and the African American Descendants Society since 2012. Among her achievements, she is proud of her instrumental role in pushing the city of Alexandria in Virginia to incorporate the history of the African American community into the history of Fort Ward Park. Ms. Terrell was part of the Fort Ward Seminary Descendants Society, which worked with the city to avoid the destruction of Civil War-era graves. Now, Fort Ward has been renovated and includes a trail that highlights the history of African Americans who lived at the fort.
Tremendously proud of working on Capitol Hill, Ms. Terrell became involved in her profession because of the influence of her mother, who worked for the federal government near the family home. Though she initially pursued a career in education, Ms. Terrell pivoted to business administration and eventually found her way to working in the U.S. House of Representatives. She advises aspiring professionals in her field to be consistent, determined, and persistent in their efforts. In the coming years, she hopes to continue serving her community for as long as she is able.