by Brian Lamar, U.S. Navy Public Affairs
Franzetta (Fran) Herrien is known as a powerhouse leader at the Child Development Center (CDC) on the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport, Mississippi. This avid Patriot’s fan’s office is brightly decorated and filled with motivational signs with messages like “No Cant’s Allowed.”
Herrien began her career on NCBC in the Child Youth Program in 2009. From there, she started into the role of training curriculum assistant, eventually working her way into the assistant director role in 2015. Recently, with the exit of Pam Carlisle, Herrien was promoted to the position of Director of the CDC on Jan. 2, 2022.
Herrien’s love for her work at the CDC stems from her own personal experiences as a single military mom.
“I was a single mom in the military and had to depend on a place like this,” she said. “I have been on both sides of the fence in regards to places like this. I feel that that gives me a unique perspective on how to care for the children’s needs and be there for the parents.” Eventually, Herrien married her high school sweetheart who was another military member.
“As a dual military spouse, it was hard to find quality child care that we could afford. Care was expensive, so I decided to get out of the military and do home care. When we moved from Germany, I decided to go back into the workforce full-time again. This change led me to the path I am on now,” she explained.
Herrien’s life mission is to continue to provide that care and help operate the CDC with the highest possible level of support. When Herrien makes claims that she loves her job because she loves the children, it is evident in her work but also in her personal life.
Herrien, who has two boys in their 20s who are getting on in their lives, decided to adopt after fostering a little girl from 8 months old, who is now 6 years old.
“My husband and I decided to give back, and God blessed us with a girl,” she said. Herrien’s love goes beyond her own children and easily extends to the children she cares for at the CDC.
“I love the children. Knowing that we are taking care of the children and meeting family needs gives me inspiration. The main focus in my work is to try to balance and tend to parent’s needs and teacher’s needs while focusing on the children,” Herrien said.
One aspect that is well-known in the CDC is that Herrien was built with a special gear that many do not possess; she likes being at work right at the opening. Herrien has spent the past several years as the opening manager at the CDC because she is a proud, self-proclaimed “morning person”. According to her coworkers, it is rare to not be greeted with a smile that warms the soul.
For all the love that Herrien has for her chosen line of work, she does say there are some downsides.
“My least favorite part of the job would be policies and policies. I understand the need for them, but sometimes I wish they could be a bit more customizable. Every situation is unique with things like deployments and such. I work to find ways I can support the parents to reduce the stresses that their careers inherently place on them,” she explained.
According to Herrien, the administrative downside to the job is made up for by the love of a few things that she encounters every day. It almost seems as if she is taking a Zen approach to the running, screaming, messy masses that her work-life centers around.
“I love to get out of my office and go see the kids in the classrooms. No matter what mood I am in, no matter what life is throwing at me, all of those worries are erased when I see those little feet walking up to the front door. On the rare days that I am having a rough day and having a hard time getting the motivation to get up, I picture those little smiling faces,” she said.
Going forward, Herrien has plans to continue the high-rated quality of care at the CDC. “First and foremost, I am here to care for the children and ensure a healthy and safe learning environment. I am here to support the parents and ease their lives in this arena by allowing them to go do what they need to do in their careers, knowing that the thing they hold most dear in life is safe, happy, and healthy. I am here to support the teachers because they are on the front lines in the classrooms. I am not in the classrooms all the time. I need to make sure their issues are not only heard but dealt with in the most supportive way possible,” she said.
When Herrien explains why she continues her career year after year, her answer is simple. As a testament to her devotion to the job, even her spiritual outlook is tied to her career.
“Who is gonna love my kids like I am gonna love them? We have to be an advocate for these children; they are our future. If we don’t care for them, who will? They are what we need daily to remind us of the hope and faith of God that there is a tomorrow, and we have to uplift that,” she said.