Francis Conole, a proud Democrat, a fourth generation Central New Yorker, U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Iraq War Veteran, and Defense Secretary Policy Advisor has dedicated his life to service and sacrifice. Over the past year, Francis stood with our community through the pandemic and in the fight for justice, served as the Syracuse City Chair of the Onondaga County Committee, and supported the Navy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He currently serves as a Commander in the Navy Reserves where he was recently selected for promotion to Captain. Francis has a proven record of solving problems in the most unique and challenging of circumstances.
Central New York Roots
Francis’ roots in Syracuse run deep, going back to the late 1800’s when his family emigrated here from Ireland in pursuit of the American Dream. Public service in the Central New York community runs in Francis’ blood, with his family being made up of teachers, social workers, nurses, veterans, and police officers.
Francis’ grandmother graduated from St. Lucy’s in 1927 and taught in the Syracuse City School District for almost 30 years. Francis’ grandfather, Patrick Corbett, joined the state police in 1933 and went on to be elected sheriff. To this day, Francis’ grandfather remains the only Democratic elected Sheriff to serve Onondaga County. He launched progressive programs that provided better conditions for the inmates, educational programs, and better training for the police force. Because of his service, the county justice center is named the Patrick James Corbett Justice Center. In 1966, one of Patrick’s proud moments was welcoming Senator Robert F. Kennedy around central New York.
Growing up, Francis’ mother wrote for the Post Standard and his father was a healthcare administrator for over 40 years. He served nearly 30 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, which inspired Francis at a young age to also answer the call to serve his country.
Dedication to Service
After graduating from Westhill High School in Onondaga County, Francis received a nomination from Congressman James Walsh and was later accepted into the Naval Academy Class of 2001.
Francis graduated from the Naval Academy three months before 9/11. Shortly after, Francis reported to the U.S.S. WASP where, at 25 years old, he led a division of almost 40 sailors and was tasked with maintaining the propulsion of a 40,000-ton ship. Francis would later serve on an Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyer, where he trained the crew to navigate the ship and respond to damage.
Following his tours at sea, Francis served in the Office of Naval Intelligence where he led a branch of analysts to produce critical intelligence, and volunteered in 2008 to serve on President Obama’s Armed Forces Inaugural Committee.
In 2010, Francis was re-activated and deployed with Army Special Forces into a combat zone in Iraq where he worked alongside Iraqi Forces and planned the safe withdrawal of U.S. Special Forces from Iraq. After his return from Iraq, Francis utilized the G.I. Bill to receive an MBA from the University of Maryland, and earned a MA in National Security Studies from the Naval War College.
Francis continued his service at the Pentagon as a policy advisor to Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Jim Mattis. He advised on U.S. Defense Policy for Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel drafting strategy that protected U.S. interests and strengthened our partnerships in the Middle-East, which resulted in being awarded the Defense Meritorious Achievement Medal.
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