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FRANK CARUCCI is an educator, an arts advocate, theatre director and producer, an administrator, union organizer and community leader. He has won countless awards for his work with young people in the area of arts and culture and as a union leader. He currently serves as President of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City, where he has been involved for over fifty five years.


Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Frank attended New York City public schools. He majored in Architectural Design at Brooklyn Technical High School. He attended college at Long Island University and Hunter College, where he majored in Speech, Theatre, and Education.


He had an internship at the old Brooklyn Jewish Hospital as a speech therapist for handicapped children and then started working as a teacher in 1963 at PS 176, an elementary school in Brooklyn. He learned the power and importance of creative dramatics and the cultural arts in tapping the hidden talents of young people. He gained an understanding of how cultural arts help raise self-esteem which results in improved positive attitudes, attendance, and therefore learning outcomes.

Frank taught at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn from 1968-86. He became editor of school year book and Coordinator and Director of Speech and Theatre Activities. He designed and taught special Theatre/English courses and directed over 50 student and community productions.

Other achievements during these years include serving as an Adjunct Lecturer in education at Kingsborough Community College (1972-74); Artistic Director of Media Age Productions, a Brooklyn based theatre group that presented touring “street theatre” productions at park sites and festivals around New York (1973-79); Teacher Advisor for CLOSE-UP, a special Washington DC educational program for students (1978-85) and Teacher Coordinator for the SPARK program, which used the arts to counter the negative, risky behavior of drug and alcohol abuse (1979-88).

Frank was involved in the 1969 Stonewall riots when he left his apartment in an adjacent building to the Stonewall bar and opened the doors to a paddy wagon that was filled with drag queens and others who were being arrested. He pulled them out and helped them escape through a basement exit in his building. To find out more about this take a listen to Frank’s podcast with Mike Balaban, linked here!

In the late 60’s his college drama professor took him to La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, the burgeoning Off-Broadway home of avant-garde theatre. There he met Ellen Stewart, Founder and Artistic Director who was the biggest influence and mentor in his life. Ellen opened La MaMa facilities to Frank for his student programs. For almost 50 years La MaMa hosted fashion shows, culinary festivals, poetry recitals, song and dance programs, acting workshops, art exhibitions and rehearsal space. Thousands of New York’s neediest students benefited from the programs that were created and supported by Frank and Ellen.

His theatre-directing career included productions for the 1976 Bicentennial celebration in “Olde New York,” which were also presented at the Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors Festival in 1976 and Christmas Festival at Alice Tully Hall. He may be the first person to have directed a new play in a public high school that moved to Broadway. THE COOLEST CAT IN TOWN premiered at Fort Hamilton High School in spring 1977 and was later presented by Media Age Productions at Lincoln Center and Street Theatre Festivals. It was presented Off-Broadway at La MaMa ETC in February, 1978 and then in June a Broadway production opened at New York’s City Center. His work as a professional director who also happened to have a teaching license, led to New York City Public Schools developing a new teaching license specifically for theatre activities.

Frank used his skill as a stage set designer to buy and convert Co-op apartments in NYC. He served on the Boards of several buildings. In the 80’s he served as the Co-op Board President and Building Manager of his building on lower Fifth Ave.


During the years 1989-1995, Frank served as Coordinator and Teacher of Cultural Arts for the Career Education Center, a New York City Department of Education alternative high school program. It served over 2,000 homeless and educationally disadvantaged students awaiting foster care placement in 40 different sites throughout NYC. He also created the first theatre arts program at the Harvey Milk School and other schools that did not have any traditional arts or music programs. He coordinated The Annenberg and other grant programs that funded taking students to theatre and arts institutions. He advocated and worked extensively with students on HIV/AIDS related issues in the schools. He directed 8 benefit productions for the High School HIV/AIDS Resource Center which included high school students working with guest celebrity performers and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus.

In 1995, Frank was recruited and elected to be the Vice President for Career and Technical (Vocational) High Schools for the United Federation of Teachers, where he served until 2005, making a huge impact. He chaired numerous groups for arts and vocational education. He worked with National and State Education Departments and NYS Board of Regents on curriculum and assessment issues developing collaborations between school programs and industry partners. While at the UFT, Frank served as Master of Ceremonies for the Union’s major social and organizational events, including Teacher Union Days, The Spring Conferences and The UFT’s 50th Anniversary celebration.


UFT’s 50th Anniversary celebration

He served on many Boards of Directors: New York State United Teachers, Central Labor Council, The Barrow Group Theatre Company, Culture Hub Media Company and La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, where he served as President for many years.  Frank has also been appointed a member of the Lincoln Center Board of Directors where he has been representing the New York City Council.


After almost 35 years of unwedded bliss, Frank and long time partner David Diamond got married on April 17th, 2016, at the La MaMa Theatre Complex.

Frank and David's



Among his many recognitions, he has been honored by Italian American groups for his work to promote Italian American culture. His advocacy work for the arts, career and technical education and labor issues earned him many awards. The UFT presented him with the TRACHTENBERG Award, the SMALLHEISER Award and in 2000 the CHARLES COGEN Award, the highest honor given to a member.

In 1994, he was awarded The New York Public Library’s BROOKE RUSSELL ASTOR AWARD given to an unknown New Yorker who has made New York a better place. In 2000, he was presented The ELLIS ISLAND MEDAL OF HONOR as an outstanding Italian American in recognition of his work with labor, education and the arts.