The motto for Rotary International is “Service Above Self.” La Porte Chapter President Fran Milo has a history of a high level of dedication and service to her community and no intention of stopping.
A lifetime of commitments and experiences, like her board memberships with the La Porte County Family YMCA and La Porte Hospital, led Fran to the Rotary Club of La Porte. Rotary combines two things that she feels are necessary to the success of her community: leadership and supporting children.
The La Porte Rotary has a strong focus on the welfare of students. They foster opportunities for children to expand their leadership skills. They sponsor organizations like Little League and the High School Interact Club. With Interact, a few kids are invited to the Rotary meeting every week, where they have guest speakers to learn from and local business role models to network with.
“It benefits the community as a whole. We all need leadership. It may be at church, service clubs, or the workplace. You have to be brought up in an environment that fosters leadership, it does not just happen. We hope to show by example what it is to be leaders,” explained Fran.
Fran is a fine example of a leader and a businesswoman herself.
She, along with the partnership of her husband, has been running Milo Enterprises since its official incorporation in 1978. They own rental properties and a laundromat in downtown La Porte.
The Chamber of Commerce presented Fran with the Athena Award for Outstanding Business Woman of the Year in 1995. It was a great honor and a surprise for her, but it was no shock to anyone else.
To this day, Fran continues to be a figure in the Business community. She is the Maintenance Chairperson for the Business Improvement District, which oversees repairs and renovations for its district. BID is given responsibility over the taxes paid by businesses in the district to invest in the value of its area. They take care of the maintenance so that local government does not have to. They are in charge of plowing the sidewalks, holiday decorations, and updating the planters. They also fund improvements to the area that will increase storefront visibility and boost La Porte Economy.
Fran has won other awards over the years, most of them for her work with the La Porte school system.
She went to Indiana University - Bloomington for a degree in Education, but after three years of teaching decided that it was not the right path. Fran returned for a Master’s in Business Administration.
“The combo gave me a unique perspective in life. It’s a way of thinking that has benefited me. I approach things from an analytical point of view, I’ve honed my decision making skills. I’m an organized person and it has set me on the right path.”
Fran spent 20 years on the La Porte Community School Board of Trustees, the longest term of any elected member. She was Member of the Year in 2001, and nationally recognized as an Outstanding Board Member in 1998.
“I feel like I got 20 great rewards throughout that time,” Fran says, remembering the twenty graduation ceremonies at which she handed out diplomas.
“I always viewed my position on the school board as something for the children. I never thought of it as political. Our decisions were about what was best for the children: they are unable to have a voice for themselves. Kids are magnificent, they are our future. To be proactive for them is rewarding. It was a great privilege to work on the board.”
Fran and her husband are life-long citizens of La Porte. She traveled for school, he traveled for music, and they both made a conscious decision to come back.
“We all have the opportunity and the obligation to give back to our communities. I’ve always been blessed by what my community has given to me, so it is an easy partnership. [La Porte’s] people is its greatest strength. Following that is its natural beauty, between the lakes and the structures that make up a community visually. I have been the recipient of many good things here.”
Fran’s father, a mason and a church going man, told her the words that she lives by: “You can do something big in your life, or you can do something small. But be sure to do something.”