Healing in the Workplace

Franchon Francees established a firm combining mental health and the workplace

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There is an almond-shaped cluster of nuclei located deep in the brain called the amygdala responsible for identifying threats triggering a flight, fight, freeze, or fawn reaction.

FRANCHON FRANCEES, founder of Healing Your Almond consulting group, explains. “When we experience trauma, anything that makes us feel unsafe and powerless, our amygdala is activated, much like an alarm going off in a house. Once our brain identifies we are in danger, it enters survival mode and maintains only those functions crucial to survival.”

Francees also knows that in order to heal from trauma, individuals need to turn off the alarm and heal. Healing Your Almond is a firm that aims to create customized solutions to bring belonging, emotional intelligence and increased productivity into the workplace.

Francees, a Native American and African American, was born in Rapid City, South Dakota. Her grandparents engrained dignity, respect, and responsibility. “They taught me to take care of people and invest in future generations,” she says.

At age 16, Francees attended Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. “I gained a lot of business knowledge at a young age by helping my entrepreneurial father run his business. Having a business degree is helpful for many aspects of my business – marketing; accounting; understanding credit scores – and in my personal life.”

After a post-graduation job in New York City with an innovative marketing company, Francees started working in the mental health arena.

Here she discovered her true passion. “I was working at a residential facility and a young girl became aggressive. I talked to her about changes she could make in her life. One week later, the girl gave the same advice to another resident. In front of my own eyes I watched her life change. I realized that people can heal.”

With new motivation, Francees went to Ohio University in 2011 for her master’s degree in clinical mental health. In 2015, she came to Wilmington at the coaxing of her grandfather, 1960s civil rights leader Major General Joseph McNeil.

“I said I would never run my own company. I saw all the negatives through my father’s business,” she recalls. After participating in a WMNX-COAST 97.3 radio show about mental health, Francees had a change of heart.

“The station director, Brandon ‘Bigg B’ Hickman, challenged me to think about what to do with all my energy around mental health.” In May 2019 Francees launched her Wilmington-based consulting company combining her business acumen with the “touchy-feely.”

Originally, Francees named her consulting business Healing with Franchon. “My grandmother told me that I needed to name it something bigger than myself because it was going to be bigger than myself. Grandma is my hero,” Francees says.

With her team of three mental health therapists, Francees estimates touching over 400 lives to date through three services:  employee wellness workshops including diversity, inclusion and authentic leadership; business consulting; and certified trauma training. Coming next year is a new curriculum for Black Indigenous People of Color. “We are planting healing seeds everywhere so they can grow,” she says.

COVID-19 has surprisingly initiated a growth spurt for her business. In addition to delivering virtual classes, Francees has attended virtual networking events all over the United States. “I ask questions and afterwards end up in private chats resulting in new business,” she says.

Francees is getting used to being in the limelight. “I wanted to be successful, but not known. That’s hard to do while building my company from nothing.” A young person in her neighborhood finally convinced Francees that it’s ok to be in the spotlight. “She told me that I need to tell other women what I told her. Everyone deserves access to that kind of help.”

Heal Your Almond will participate in Cape Fear Region Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week on October 5 – 10. Francees’ original film “Flipping the Couch,” featuring an authentic multicultural therapy session; “Flipping Femininity,” a panel discussion on reshaping the self-image of women; and “Building Resiliency as a Business Owner,” an interactive workshop, will be hosted online and free to the public.

To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.

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Categories: Women to Watch