Sheehan to be honored with Lukens Award

Frances Sheehan

COATESVILLE –The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum (NISHM) in Coatesville along with Coatesville Savings Bank, announced Tuesday its eleventh annual Rebecca Lukens Award to be presented to noted community-builder, Frances Sheehan, President of Crozier-Keystone Community Foundation.

For the past 15 years, Ms. Sheehan served as President and CEO of the Brandywine Health Foundation (BHF) in Coatesville and helped distribute $15 million in funding for services and programs to benefit Coatesville area’s residents. She assumed her current role in January of 2017. Established by The Graystone Society’s National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum to honor individuals who exhibit the qualities of Rebecca Lukens, the annual award will be presented to Ms. Sheehan at a May 10th garden party reception, in the Lukens National Historic District.

Sheehan was born in England and became an American citizen as a teenager.

A mother of two and a resident of Swarthmore, Frances learned early on the value of making the most of her time. She recalls her first job fondly, “I was a babysitter (with two sisters, the three of us were a Babysitting Machine!) and my mother taught us that even after the kids went to bed we needed to tidy up, wash any dishes in the sink, etc. In other words, we were still being paid and should be useful until there wasn’t anything obvious to do and only then could we relax and watch TV. The lesson? Going above and beyond the call of duty pays off – we were in high demand!”

That early lesson was not lost on Frances who later went on to become the Chief Executive Officer of Planned Parenthood of Chester County for twelve years (1990-2002) and the recipient of many community/regional awards, as well as serving on numerous boards and committees.

Like Rebecca Lukens, Frances realized the value of investing in her community. “I was raised Catholic with a “do good in the world” message, and I was a Girl Scout, and my mother was always doing something like volunteering in our local library or delivering Meals on Wheels – I think those are early lessons that send a message to young people that living your faith involves service and that being engaged in your community is important. When I graduated from college, those early experiences, as well as the fact that I was turned off from private industry – there were so few women in leadership back then, probably impacted my interest in working in a change-making non-profit career.”

Scott G. Huston, the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum’s President, applauds this year’s choice for the Rebecca Lukens Award.

“Frances has been a true friend to NISHM since its inception. At every turn, Frances would lend her resources (and the resources of her organization) to enrich our mission and the goals we have set forth-such as BHF’s Coatesville Youth Initiative, where student interns from the community would spend the summer working at NISHM.” Scott also appreciates Frances’ unique birds-eye view of NISHM.

“I was a history major in college so I was attracted to the Museum’s mission from the beginning and have been fortunate to watch the organization grow and evolve over the 12 plus years that the Brandywine Health Foundation has been located in the Lukens Executive Office Building (home base to NISHM),” cites Frances.

Looking forward, Frances says, “I applaud people who are engaged in their communities, take the time to become informed about all we know about how to deliver good health care, and how to build an equitable, high quality education system, and then vote thoughtfully. We can have different opinions about how to accomplish those goals of course but engagement in meaningful ways is critical.”

May 10th will also mark the premiere of NISHM’s newest exhibit, “Sailing With Steel: Success in the America’s Cup.” The America’s Cup is viewed as the most difficult trophy in sport to win. With beautiful and fast yachts, close races, and the appearance of famous individuals, the Cup has excited and awed the world. Even after more than 150 years, this sailing competition continues to be a focus of the sports worlds. 

The steel industry and the sailing sport has a unique relationship. Due to its strength and other properties, shipbuilders use steel to manufacture parts of their yachts, such as the hulls and the masts. Sites like Lukens Steel Company supplied steel plate for numerous yachts and Herreshoff Manufacturing Company and Bath Iron Works built the vessels. 

This exhibit celebrates the history of the America’s Cup, one of the most thrilling competitions to witness. It also makes known the materials used to make vessels, the yachts that were made with Lukens steel, and a few of the famous sailors and owners. This exhibit opens on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 and will remain on display through August 2017.

Presenting sponsor for the Rebecca Lukens Award is Coatesville Savings Bank. “The Trustees and Employees of Coatesville Savings Bank are committed to providing outstanding customer service, competitive products and services, and involvement and support for the communities we serve. It’s how we define community banking. It’s how you can define Coatesville Savings Bank,” cites bank information.


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