Rancho Cucamonga is derived from a Native American word meaning “sandy place.” As a communicator, Palmer feels privileged to tell the story of how this once-sandy place has transformed into what she views as a premier Southern California city.
“Making a community better — making it a place people are proud to be a part of — nothing beats that,” she says.
Rancho Cucamonga City Manager John Gillison credits Palmer for having as much impact behind the scenes as she has had externally. A certified facilitator of the Core Strengths leadership training and strengths assessment, Palmer has led hundreds of city employees through the material and trained numerous others as facilitators, including Gillison.
“We use it as a common language internally now. It helps our teams understand how to work with each other,” he says.
He also credits Palmer with creating a robust communications team focused on branding, messaging, video and social channels.
“Had we not had someone like Francie, who is authentic, genuine, loyal and passionate about what she does and why she does it, I don’t think we would have come as far as fast,” Gillison says.
For her part, Palmer has stayed true to the roots of what prompted her to enter public service. “In local government, we’re creating opportunities for people to have experiences and memories that are going to last a lifetime,” she says.
For anyone looking to enter public service, Palmer says collaboration is key. “A collaborative spirit is really something you want. Everyone who comes to the table may not get everything they want, but if everyone feels like they’re part of the process and have a better understanding than they did when they walked in the door, that can be a win,” she says.
Palmer has never felt threatened by citizens who “express their enthusiasm loudly,” because that means there’s one more person becoming engaged in civic life.
“It’s amazing to see people become involved in how things work,” she says. “They start to feel as though they are a part of their community versus this is just where they live.”
Palmer has been honored for her efforts, named the 2017 Communicator of the Year by the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO). In 2018, CAPIO awarded her the Paul B. Clark Lifetime Achievement Award.