Frank Sarlo is a retired lawyer and activist from Sault Ste. Marie who played a leading role in several very important community initiatives. In 1989, when the city’s beloved Soo Greyhounds received a million dollar offer to relocate to Detroit, Frank sprung into action to save the team. Together with a local dentist and other community leaders, Frank raised enough money from businesses and local hockey fans to match the offer and keep the team in Sault Ste. Marie.
A few years later, when Algoma Steel filed for creditor protection, he organized a non-profit corporation to act as an honest broker in negotiations to transfer the city’s steel works to employee ownership.
Then, in 1998, he assumed a leadership role in organizing Ten Days of Magic, a Homecoming event that attracted more than 10,000 former residents of Sault Ste. Marie. Over the course of the 10 days, more than 1,000 events were held, including concerts, fireworks displays and laser shows.
In this interview, Frank goes into detail on all three initiatives, underlining the importance of community outreach and teamwork. “One thing I learned throughout my life,” he tells us, “is that nobody does anything alone. You need the community behind you.”
After practising law for 40 years, Frank went on to earn a PhD in Community Organization from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. Degree in hand, he founded the Centre for Social Justice and Good Works, which focuses on leadership training for the city’s youth.
The Centre encourages children aged six to 13 to do good deeds, it provides entrepreneurship training for the city’s youth in a chocolate factory it founded and provides recreation opportunities for marginalized children in the community.
“Leaders,” he tells us, “can bring people together to do things you could never dream of.”