Holding considerable expertise in management and organization, Frances Colbert Terrell was inspired to her career by her mother, who worked in federal government. Initially thinking to become a teacher, she first earned a diploma from Parker-Gray High School before pursuing higher education at Hampton University. After graduation she realized that she wanted to work in business administration, which was where her expertise lay, and she joined the United States House of Representatives in Capitol Hill, Washington, as a congressional staff assistant in 1976.
Spending over two decades with the House of Representatives, Ms. Terrell worked with a number of United State representatives between 1976 and her retirement in 1999. These included Rep. Jeff Brooks, Rep. Keron Mitchell and Rep. John Conyers. While she did retire in 1999, she came out of retirement for a brief time to serve as the owner of the Fran and Cal Travel Agency between 2006 and 2010.
Toward the end of her tenure with the House of Representatives, Ms. Terrell earned certification as a church deaconess in 1996, and continues to serve as a deaconess for the Oakland Baptist Church to this day. She also remains active in her community as a board member of the Seminary Hill Association in Alexandria, Virginia, a post she achieved in 2019, and was previously the president of the Seminary Civic Association from 2011 to 2021. Furthermore, she holds membership with the Ft. Ward and Seminary African American Descendants Society, the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations.
Attributing much of her success to her dedication, determination and upbringing, Ms. Terrell has achieved much over the course of her career. She cites the crowning highlight of her career to be the work she did with the Ft. Ward and Seminary African American Descendants Society to recognize the African American community who had first come to Fort Ward following the Civil War. This involved the restoration of the old African American cemetery, now known as the Altan Baptist Church Cemetery, and the incorporation of the post-Civil War history of the African American community into the Fort Ward Park and Museum.
Fort Ward Park had initially been a military fort back in the 1800s and when the military left the now free African American community of the area moved into the open land. The neighborhood, known as The Fort, existed in Fort Ward from 1895 until 1964, when the city of Alexandria moved the people living there to create the Fort Ward Park and Museum. The city of Alexandria is now looking to expand the history presented by the Fort Ward Park and Museum with their Interpretive Plan for Fort Ward Park, following the adoption of the Fort Ward Park & Museum Area Management Plan in 2015 and a series of archaeological investigations that took place at the park between 2009 and 2014. Ms. Terrell is incredibly proud to have been so instrumental in returning this rich and valuable history of the area to the public eye.
Born in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1943, Ms. Terrell has been happily married to her husband, Calvin Terrell, since 1986. Together they were the proud parents of one son, who sadly passed away in 2012, and they remain doting grandparents to their six wonderful grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Looking toward the future, Ms. Terrell intends to continue her involvement with her community and the Seminary Hill Association for as long as she is able.